Finney's Four Letters To Miss A. E. of Vermont Respecting Questions of Duty;
Responded to with careful application of the law of love.
These letters have not been published since 1845. They were written and published at the same time and along side of those published upon Revival in the Oberlin Evangelist; which have recently been published in a work called "Reflections on Revival" in 1979. A comparison of the two sets of letters will reveal that the two compliment each other and develop different aspects of similar subjects. It was by referencing Finney's biographer that we first learned of these letters, when G. F. Wright mentioned how Finney had given up "Grahamism" and had confessed to being too strict in diet at one time (see fourth letter below). It was of great interest to us to find out what Finney changed in diet, as many today would suppose he was too strict and perhaps ignorant. There is also an opinion that after this giving up of Grahamism, at least the absolute adherence to it, that he then allowed for the use of articles of luxury or non-nutrious substances such as tea and coffee, which he had often spoken against. In the fourth letter we see just what he did do and think about eating healthy. In all his subsequent sermons and lectures we find a continual preaching against such practices as he did formerly. Yet after his short experiment with Grahamism he was found to consist more or less with the more reasonable and spiritual science of Isaac Jennings; whose works he highly recommended (see his recommendation of "Medical Reform" in the 1847 Oberlin Quarterly Review. But once again, we see through these letters how Finney has consistently applied the law of disinterested benevolence to all actions in life. In these letters we get more of a practical understanding of how he believed it was to be lived out in the various nature and relations of our circumstances. Even though it is a struggle to determine the best choice, he shows how reasonable the great law of love is. Where duty seems often conflicting with other duties and with man, and where many might suppose a difficult answer due to the seeming complexity of this universal law, Finney gently reveals the simplicity and freedom there is in this great "law of liberty."
R. F. 12/2000
Letter 1. A Question about Resolutions, Doubtful Actions, and Being Ruled by The Law of Love Which Cause us to Forsake Sinful Commitments.
Letter 2. A Question about Fashion and Dress, and What the Law of Love Leads us to do in Different Circumstances and With Other Similar Matters.
Letter 3. A Question about Wearing Mourning Clothes, and The Blessings of Struggling to Discover our Duty in Life as Christ did.
Letter 4. A Question about Being Lead by Impulses, the Devil; and On Health.
LETTER FROM PROF. FINNEY TO MISS A. E. OF VERMONT …..No. 1.
[A Question about Resolutions, Doubtful Actions, and Being Ruled by The Law of Love Which Cause us to Forsake Sinful Commitments.]
March 12, 1845, The Oberlin Evangelist Vol. II. No. 6. Pg. 43.
DEAR SISTER A:
Your interesting communication is just received and read. I am pressed with many duties and cannot answer so much in detail as I could wish. You suggest that an answer in the Oberlin Evangelist would be acceptable. As I am receiving many letters containing similar inquiries, I think it may be well to reply as briefly as my be through the columns of that paper, since an answer to your questions will be also an answer to the many inquiries upon the same topics. I will reply to them in their order.
Your first inquiry respects sundry resolutions and promises which you have made, but no kept, and which therefore have been a snare to your soul. Among other things, you resolved and promised to observe certain hours for prayer and devotional exercises. Some of these promises you wrote down. If I understand you, they are all much of the same character. You say, "I then formed many resolutions that I would and would not do thus and so. Some of the m I put into writing, and sought the grace of God to enable me to keep them. These I have not kept; for example, regular hours of prayer. For some time after I formed these resolutions, when the hour came I would leave my work and attend to those duties, sometimes doubtful whether I was doing right to leave my work. Now I endeaver to attend to those duties just as I think my heavenly Father would have me. I pay more regard to convenience. In so doing, do I regard self?"
In answering this part of your letter, I observe first, that you had no right to make a resolution either orally or in writing appropriating certain hours to devotional exercises, irrespective of the circumstances under which the providence of God might place you. Multitudes of instances might occur in which observance of those hours would interfere with other manifest duties. In these cases, it could not be your duty to observe those hours in the manner which you had promised. Now as you had no right to make such a promise as this, it cannot be binding. Otherwise you might, by promising to do a certain thing, render it obligatory to do that thing, although it might, under the circumstances, be wrong; which is equivalent to saying, that by promising to commit a sin, you can make it your duty to commit it; which again would be the same thing as to say that it is your duty to commit sin; or in other words, that you sin in doing your duty, or in other words, that sin is no sin, or in other words still, that sin and duty are the same thing—which is absurd.
2. The spirit of a promise to observe certain hours for devotion, is simply this—that providence permitting—that health and all the circumstances rendering it consistent with the great law of benevolence; such and such hours shall be appropriated to such duties. If any thing more than this is intended by such a promise, the promise is unlawful. If you really doubted whether you did right in leaving your work, you do not do right. "He that doubteth, is damned if he eat;" that is whosoever does that, the lawfulness of which he doubts, is condemned unless he as really and strongly doubts the lawfulness of the opposite course. Perhaps by your resolution you had placed yourself in precisely this predicament. You doubted whether you did right to leave your work, and perhaps as strongly, or more strongly, doubted the lawfulness of not keeping your resolution. In this case, if you acted conscientiously according as you viewed the subject with the best light you had, you ought not to regard yourself as being condemned for the course you took.
3. Such resolutions and promises are very frequently a great snare and stumbling-block to the soul. The reason is this: the unalterable, and only rule by which we are to be governed and by which we are to ascertain our duty on every occasion, is that of disinterested, perfect, and universal benevolence. Now this is right in itself, and let it be forever understood, that nothing in the universe is right in itself, but disinterested, perfect, and universal benevolence. This is the unalterable and only law of right.
Again, let it be forever understood that nothing is wrong in itself but selfishness; that is, the disposition to self-gratification. Every act of ever kind that can have any moral character at all, every state of mind, and every omission that can have any moral character at all, is either right or wrong, as it is conformed to the law of benevolence or to the law of selfishness. Selfishness is always wrong, and ever thing that proceeds therefrom. Benevolence is always right and every thing that proceeds therefrom. I mean by this, that all those outward actions and states of mind that necessarily follow from benevolence or selfishness, so far as they can have any moral character at all, are right or wrong simply because, and in so far as they are conformed to either of these laws. Now the question whether any particular action or thing is right or wrong, can be decided only by bringing all the circumstances of the case into the light of the law of love, always remembering that nothing is right or wrong in itself, but conformity or non-conformity to this law. Now whether it may be your duty to appropriate a certain hour to rest or exercise, to sleep, to prayer, to refreshment, to labor, to recreation, to study, to meditation, to visiting the poor, to taking care of the sick, or in any of the ten thousand other supposable ways, will depend entirely upon the circumstances of the case, and you should never promise to do or omit any thing that may be inconsistent with the circumstances in which Providence may play you. Your business is to be at all times wholly devoted to God, to be perfectly and disinterestedly benevolent, and let the employment of every hour be such as seems, with the best light you have, to be most for the honor of God and the advancement of his kingdom. This is the rule and the only rule of right; and all tying yourself up to any other course than this is wrong. It will be a snare to your soul.
Again, prayer and devotional exercises are the privileges of the Christian, and not things that he must be whipped up to, by resolutions, oaths, and vows. If your heart is full of love, you will not need oaths and vows to lead you to pray. If it is not, you will never discharge your duty by complying with an oath, and spending an hour in mocking God. It is always well to observe stated seasons for every duty, so far as we consistently can; but our circumstances are often such that very few duties can be uniformly attended to at any given hour. Let us be watchful, and sure to pray enough, and attend to every thing in its proper time and place, and not suffer Satan to bring us into bondage in any of these matters.
My sister, the same God that wrote the Bible, the same God that works within us by the voice and leadings of his Spirit, is the same God that administers a universal and particular providence in the world around us. The inward leadings of his Spirit and the written word, are never inconsistent with his providential dispensations. We want to know what the will of God is, respecting the disposal of our time and efforts every moment. His providential dealings are designed to afford us opportunity for developing and carrying out the great law of benevolence written in our hearts. The providence therefore, is to be regarded as a revelation of his will as to our duty every hour. Now for us to set up a resolution that we will or will not do this or that, is to make a standard and rule of our own—is to be self-willed, to disregard the voice of God and lean to our own understanding. In this we set aside the authority of God, under the pretence of piously keeping a resolution. The fact is, it is infidelity to deny or overlook the truth, that Providence is a continual revelation of the will of God in respect to us. My dear sister, let us remember that providence is nothing else than a great book of divine revelation, in which we are passing over successive chapters, verse, and pages day by day; and this providence, so far as we are able to understand it, is just as binding upon us as a written revelation, or as if God should utter his will in an audible voice from heaven. We have no right therefore, to make any promise or resolution whatever, that may clash with the providential revelations of the will of God in respect to our time and hourly duties. Let this suffice, my sister, for an answer to your first inquiry. In the next number, God willing, you will find an answer to your second inquiry.
C. G. FINNEY.
LETTER FROM PROF. FINNEY TO MISS A. E. OF VERMONT…..No. 2.
[A Question about Fashion and Dress, and What the Law of Love Leads us to do in Different Circumstances and With Other Similar Matters.]
March 26, 1845, Vol. II. No. 7. Pg. 52.
DEAR SISTER A:
Your second inquiry relates to the subject of dress. "After having received the blessing of which I have spoken, I was very sensitive in relation to dress—about conforming to the fashion of the world, and felt that I never would change any form of dress. In this too, I have departed, but have not returned to my former course. This, however, is one point which has been a source of much pain to me."
Now, my sister, this is a much agitated question, and the only way in which it can be decided, is by reference to the law which I before mentioned: namely, that of universal, disinterested, and perfect benevolence. This is the rule and the only rule by which all our actions are to be governed. Benevolence is good willing, or willing the good or happiness of being. Our own happiness is a part of the good of being, and should always be estimated according to its relative value. As an illustration of this: Suppose there are before me two kinds of food, or two baskets of fruit; other things being equal, it is lawful for me, and even my duty to choose that which is most agreeable to me, simply because it is a greater good to me and no evil to any body else, and therefore is so far conducive to the highest good. So if I were providing food or fruit for another, it would be my duty, other things being equal, to provide that which is most agreeable to him.
Now apply this principle to dress. By a law of our being, more or less variety seems to be demanded; that is, our highest enjoyment can be promoted only by considerable variety. Now God is benevolent. In our original constitution he planted capacities for enjoyment, and constantly adapts his providence and works to these capacities, that he may promote our happiness. Hence the variety with which his works abound. For us to refuse this variety in our diet and in other things, is to reproach the wisdom of God, and trample down the laws of our being. There is, however, be it remembered, a reasonable variety in every thing, and there is a fanciful, unreasonable, luxurious, self-gratifying variety. Suppose you have for a long time worn one form and color of dress. It becomes necessary for you to have a new one. You feel inclined to change the color, and in some respects the form. Now observe, all things else being equal—the expense, the manner in which the change will be regarded by others—every thing in short, being equal, it is no doubt proper for you to follow this impulse, that is, it is in accordance with reason for you to do so, and it is demanded by reason. It is a law of your being, and if it will promote your happiness, and impair the happiness of no other being, your duty in this case becomes plain, just as in choosing between different kinds of food. But observe that when the fashion of the day or other circumstances might give this change the appearance of conforming to the world, it should be abstained from, under that rule of the Apostle—"Abstain from all appearance of evil."
2. A great variety of circumstances are always to be taken into the account in determining the dress suitable for different individuals and at different seasons: such as the age, the sex, the health, the circumstances, the position in which providence has placed you. All things should be well considered in deciding what is becoming, modest, healthful, Christian. Certainly no universal rule can be laid down but that already mentioned; namely, universal, disinterested, perfect benevolence. It is easy to see that the practical application of this rule would naturally introduce a great variety, according to the climate, the seasons, the health, and various other circumstances.
There is no need of persons being stumbled upon this subject. A holy heart—in other words, a single eye to the glory of God in all things, will enable persons to learn their duty on this as on all other subjects.
My sister, let it be remembered as of great importance, that Christians should not judge one another upon such subjects as these, and apply their own rules and notions to every body, and insist upon making their own consciences the rule of another's duty. I have no right to judge another man by my light, and denounce him if he will not comply with my views upon this or any other subject, where the thing is manifestly neither right nor wrong in itself, but only right or wrong according to the circumstances. In this there is a great evil in the church and the world. We overlook the fact upon which I insisted in my first letter, that but one thing in the universe is right in itself—that is, benevolence; and that every thing is right or wrong as it does or does not accord with the law of benevolence.
I have been several times requested by my sisters abroad to give my opinion in relation to the rule by which especially females are to be governed in the regulation of their dress. Now to this I answer:
(2.) That what is upon the whole benevolent in every case must be decided by a sober, honest, and earnest consideration of all the circumstances of the case. Every thing is of course to be avoided that will appear to be a conformity to the world, because we are required to avoid all appearance of evil.
Again, all extravagance of every kind is to be avoided, and also all forms and modes of dress that are inconsistent with the best health; and again, whatever is inconsistent with a pure and correct taste. Every thing immodest, uncouth, or slovenly should be rejected. Christian women would do well to dress always just as they would if they expected to receive a visit personally for the Lord Jesus Christ. My sister, always dress so as to have reason to believe that the Savior, if personally present, could not say—I am sorry to see you have so much regard to your personal appearance, or I am sorry to see you have so little. Dress in such a manner that you suppose he would have nothing at all to say about your dress, or about your state of mind respecting dress. Indeed, females would do well to dress always so as to attract no attention at all to their dress. Remember this, my sister. Few ladies would err if they would follow this rule. I say few, because I can conceive of circumstances in which there might be an exception. Some ladies are providentially placed in such circumstances that most of their associations are with those who dress most extravagantly. Now a lady thus situated must either dress extravagantly, or be noted for Christian simplicity and plainness. In such cases it is well for a lady to become notorious, and to depart so far from the extravagance of those around her, as to rebuke the gay and fashionable multitude. In this case she should by no means go to an opposite extreme, and pay so little regard to her dress as to be necessarily offensive; but let her observe the rule of the Apostle; adorn herself with modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with gold or pearls or costly array; but with such apparel as becomes a woman professing godliness.
Inasmuch as benevolence is the rule, we are always to remember that the expensiveness of dress is much to be taken into the account in deciding upon the propriety of any article of apparel. The wants of the world the numerous demands upon our resources for aid to benevolent objects, should always be duly considered in all our expenditures, and of course for dress. The error is almost universal on the side of extravagance; but there may be error on the other side. Persons may not sufficiently consult their health, the climate, and all the circumstances of the case, and may for the sake of a present good, forego a greater and more remote good.
A great deal may be said on this subject. Not so much however really needs to be said as many suppose, because the law of benevolence is simple, and generally of very easy application. I have thought that many fail to distinguish between scrupulousness and conscientiousness in regard to questions of this kind, and that Satan often has very much to do in troubling the minds of many Christians on this subject. Your health is feeble and your nerves delicate; perhaps you are not sufficiently careful to discriminate between scrupulousness and conscientiousness. When the Holy Spirit shall have taught you how to make this just discrimination, I think you will be relieved of your trouble on this subject. I may resume this topic at some future time.
Yours in the Lord:
C. G. FINNEY.
LETTER FROM PROF. FINNEY TO MISS A. E. OF VERMONT…..No. 3.
[A Question about Wearing Mourning Clothes, and The Blessings of Struggling to Discover our Duty in Life as Christ did.]
April 9, 1845. Vol. VII….No. 8. Pg. 60.
DEAR SISTER A:
Your third enquiry relates to the subject of wearing mourning apparel. You say, "A brother once remarked in my presence that he felt it was wrong for people to change their dress at the loss of friends, or in other words, to put on mourning apparel." He thought it was conforming to the fashion of the world and therefore wrong; and also that it was an unnecessary expense. These considerations led me to believe in the same way. He remarked further that he should be singular should his friends put it on. These remarks led me to feel so decided that I made the remark that should my mother be taken, I should put on no mourning, even if my friends did.—The first trial I had of these feelings was the removal of my dear mother. Well, what did I do but conform to the wishes of my friends, as they would not comply with mine. My dear brother, do you think I did wrong in view of all the circumstances of the case? I find if I once yield and do the thing that I thought was not right, I am left to doubt whether I was right."
Upon this I remark,
1. That my own habit and that of our family is to make no change in our dress on account of the loss of even nearest friends. Our reasons are these:
Again, it is unavoidable that the preparation of mourning apparel diverts the attention of the living from the great impression which God designed death to make upon them. Just at the time when God is speaking to them in so impressive a manner they must be all bustle in preparing their mourning dresses, they must go to the store—visit the milliner's and mantua-makers, and tailors; search the shops for hosiery; mouring rings, ribbands, and crapes must be had, and much attention must be paid to the cut and form of every thing; the greatly salutary lesson which God designed to teach them by his solemn providence is lost and worse than lost. Besides all this, it is no real respect for the dead.
But once more. Let us bring up the law which I have mentioned in my first two letters, and decide this custom in the light of it. Does benevolence to the dead require this? Would the departed spirit if allowed to speak, request that all this attention should be paid to the outward habiliments of mourning? If the soul has gone to heaven, would its happiness be increased by the mourner's expending so much time, thought and money upon dress? Could that soul on any account desire that this expense should be increased, or the attention be thus diverted from serious considerations? If the departed spirit has gone to hell, can we alleviate its sufferings by procuring mourning apparel?
Again, would benevolence to God lead us to do any such thing? Or would benevolence to the living require it? Is it demanded any way by the law of disinterested and universal benevolence? Yet in regard to this, let me say that I can conceive of circumstances in which this might be the less of two evils, and therefore expedient and right; for, let it be remembered, nothing is right in itself but disinterested benevolence—nothing wrong in itself but selfishness. Now if circumstances should occur in which the highest good seems plainly to demand that we use mourning apparel, then let us use it; otherwise, let us abstain from using it. Only have a single eye to the glory of God and the good of man, and you can form a right judgment as to your duty under any circumstances that may occur.
I have suggested that circumstances may occur in which the law of love will demand compliance with this custom. For example, you may be so situated that non-compliance would have so much the appearance of stubbornness, self-will, or some other evil temper, as to render it expedient to submit to the practice. Or your family or social relations may be such as to render it expedient. It may be best that a wife should comply with her husband's wishes; a daughter with the wishes of her parents.
As to the scruples you feel respecting this and the other questions you have proposed, let me remark that you need not expect to be able to settle all questions of duty without a struggle and a trial. It ought not to be expected that we shall become settled on many important questions of duty without that agonizing effort of mind which usually precedes our throwing ourselves unqualifiedly upon God for direction. The very fact that doubt and uncertainty hang over the path of duty, awakening an earnest desire to know the truth, produces a reaching, grasping, struggling, groaning, until the light of the Spirit, word and providence of God settle the mind in respect to his will. Do not count it strange therefore, my sister, that you should have these trials. They are a part of your Father's discipline. You know the way to get all your doubts resolved. Christ is your wisdom, your light, your life, your guide. He has promised to guide you by his eye. Your nature and circumstances are such that it will often cost you a struggle to penetrate the darkness that may enshroud some important question of duty. Let this never discourage or stumble you. You will find questions of higher and still higher import thrown before your mind as you advance in knowledge and conformity to the will of God. Remember you must agonize to enter the strait gate—the whole Christian life is a warfare with temptation and a struggle with difficulties, embarrassing questions, and multitudes of things designed to develop to the utmost our patience, faith, love, hope, our sympathy with Christ in his humiliation, and thus prepare us to share with him in his glory. It is one of the grossest mistakes for Christians to expect ever in this life to permanently beyond the struggles and agonizing conflicts which God intends for their discipline and development. Let no one expect it. It is enough for the servant that he be as his Master. Christ had trials of his faith, his patience, and all his graces. He learned obedience, we are told by the things which he suffered. Let it not be inferred form this that Christ sinned, nor should it every be inferred that any being on trial sins because he has these struggles. These befell Christ as a man; so they may befall ourselves as human beings needing that development which discipline gives and which nothing else can give. The graces of the man Christ Jesus, needed development as well as ours, and his Heavenly Father attained it in the same way with him as with us. But I cannot say more on this subject at present. Let us be cheerfully willing to follow in his footsteps, and count it all joy when like him we fall into diverse temptations, perplexities, and discouragements, remembering that the trial of our faith worketh patience.
C. G. FINNEY.
LETTER FROM PROF. FINNEY TO MISS A. E. OF VERMONT…..No. 4.
[A Question about Being Lead by Impulses, the Devil;
and On Health.]
From The Oberlin Evangelist, April 23, 1845. Vol. II. Pg.
DEAR SISTER A:
Your fourth enquiry relates to public duties. You say, "I am very much tired in relation to duties, particularly public ones; and here, may I ask what you think to be the appropriate public duties for a female who is willing to do the whole will of God. What part should she bear in conferences and lectures, where there is no invitation extended to the sisters and where it is not expected that they will be a part? I will tell you what I have done and how my mind is exercised upon this point. I do not know what makes me feel thus, and why I should have so much anxiety. I have felt it my duty to take a part, and did not dare refuse. I have sometimes felt tempted and did refuse, and thereby brought deep anguish of soul upon myself because I felt it was an act of disobedience; and because I have disobeyed, there is a fear that I shall again do so, so that my mind is in an anxious state. My mind is enquiring what I shall say on such occasions, and then I have much suggested to me; but when the opportunity occurs, I some how cannot express it as I thought I could. Where is the defect in me? If it is of the Lord that I should speak or pray, why have I not freedom and influence, and why any solicitude in relation to another opportunity."
My dear sister, I could relate to you a great many cases similar to yours, where persons have been greatly perplexed with suggestions, impulses and feelings, and have sometimes given way to them and have been led from step to step into most ridiculous absurdities. Now here remember again, that the law of universal love is your rule in meeting and out of meeting, and not any suggestions, and impulses, or mere feelings. If benevolence manifestly requires you to speak or pray anywhere, at any time, your duty is plain; but impulses, mere feelings, and suggestions are no rule of duty. They may and often do come from Satan, and I should think from what you say that Satan is trying to make you appear ridiculous. For a woman to pray or speak in a prayer or conference meeting is certainly neither right nor wrong in itself, but its propriety must be determined in view of all the circumstances of the case. I know some have supposed that the Scriptures plainly prohibit the speaking or praying of woman in promiscuous assemblies. I do not so understand the teachings of the Bible. Your question, if I understand you , does not involve the enquiry whether or not the Bible forbids this practice. You seem not to have any scruples upon this subject, but in respect to the where and the when. Now the where and the when must be decided by all the circumstances of the case. If you feel constrained by the love of Christ to pray or speak, and the circumstances are such that by doing so you would not offend God's little ones, you may no doubt do so with propriety. But when the opinions of your brethren and sisters are such that this course would really shock and grieve them, this should be taken into the account, and in most instances doubtless should decide you not to do it. But I can conceive of circumstances in which it might be your duty to do so even should they object, but then, I should not consider a bare impulse or feeling of any kind as sufficient evidence that this is your duty. The question is, what are the circumstances? where are you? what have you to say? what is the demand for saying what is upon your mind? The truth is, my sister, that many persons mistake by supposing that the Spirit of God leads christians by impulses and by creating certain feelings and impressing it upon them that such and such things are duty, without the mind once considering whether the course thus impressed upon their minds is demanded by the law of benevolence. Now let it always be remembered that the Spirit of God influences the mind by truth. The mind in order to act virtuously must have reasons which appear to it to be good, and sufficient reasons for any given conduct. It is true that where we have an express revelation of the will of God, that is a good and sufficient reason and we need enquire no further; but we are never to regard a mere impression or feeling as obligatory where we can perceive no other reason for the given course.
Considering the standard you have set up and the attainments to which you are aspiring, it is not at all wonderful that Satan should endeavor to vex and divert you by all sorts of suggestions, putting you up to make promises which he knows you will not and cannot keep, and then tormenting you by accusing you of having broken you promises. That he should suggest to you trains of thought, and impress you to speak in public assemblies is not wonderful or new. Should you being to give way and follow these suggestions, as I have often known persons to do, you would soon be impressed with the duty of arising and interrupting the preacher and producing disorder in public worship. If you refuse to follow these suggestions, it is natural that he should accuse you of pride, the fear of man, and all such things. Now, my sister, I do not believe that this is the way in which God leads his children.
Again, you speak of the impressions being very strong upon your mind. This also, in my view, is a suspicious circumstance. I have learned by experience as well as from observation, that oftentimes the impulses of Satan are much more powerful than those by which the Spirit of God leads his people; that is, the impression on the imagination and feelings is much stronger. The mind of God is calm and mild; and in general no doubt the leadings of his Spirit are calm and mild also, and more like a still small voice; whereas Satan is boisterous and often deeply exciting in his suggestions and impulses. I do not mean to say that God is not sometimes so, but that the strength of an impression is not by any means decisive proof of its coming from God. In my own experience I can remember some instances in which I laid too much stress upon the strength of an impression, and was afterwards satisfied that it was from Satan.
You say you are tried with the subject of eating and drinking. This is also very natural, considering the position which you have taken to live in all things wholly to the glory of God. The same rule, remember, is to be applied to this as to every thing else. "Whatsoever ye do, whether ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of God." Quantity, quality, times of eating, and everything about it should have respect to the best physical condition of the body and through this to the glory of God. Act, my sister, according to the best light you can get for the time being. As opportunity may offer, study the laws of life and health, and conform to those laws as far as other duties will permit, and make such changes from time to time as increased light demands. Be not brought into bondage on this subject. My observation has shown me that persons are liable to be brought into bondage in different directions upon the subject of diet, and dress and many other things of this kind. When I first read Graham's work on Physiology and Dietetics, I was deeply interested in it, and as it was at the time the best light as I supposed which I had, I became very scrupulous in my conformity to his views. After a while, I found myself in complete bondage to what is called Grahamism.
Some are manifestly in bondage to their appetite and have no command over themselves. Others are in bondage to Grahamism or to some other ism, so as to be ready to starve themselves well nigh to death, unless they can get a particular kind of diet. Now all this appears to me to be taking upon our necks a yoke which God has never imposed upon us. If I understand the rule with respect to diet it is that we shall as far as circumstances admit, prefer those things which are most consistent with and conducive to the best physical state of our bodies, not hesitating, however for conscience sake to eat such things as are set before us in our journeyings and wanderings, provided they are not positively injurious.