I am glad that little book can be returned, and I will mail it to you. I couldn’t send it without a loving word; it seemed to fall so providentially into my hands and knock so at the door of my heart. In what strange ways people get introduced to each other, and how subtle are the influences that excite a bond of sympathy!... What do you do with girls who fall madly and desperately in love with you? Do you laugh at them, or scold them, or love them, or what? I used to do just such crazy things, and am not sure I never do them now. Did you ever live in a queerer world than this is?
To Miss E.S. Gilman, New York, April 29, 1871.
The subject of your letter is one that greatly interests me, and I should be glad to get more light upon it myself. As far as I know, those who live apart from the world, communing with God and working for Him chiefly in prayer, have least temptation to wandering and distracted thoughts, and are more devout and spiritual than those of us who live more in the world. But it stands to reason that we can’t all live so. The outside work must go on, and somebody must do it. But of course we have the hardest time, since while in the world we must not be of it. I have come, of late, to think that both classes are needed, the contemplative and the active, and God does certainly take the latter aside now and then as you suggest, by sickness and in other ways, to set them thinking. Holiness is not a mere abstraction; it is praying and loving and being consecrate, but it is also the doing kind deeds, speaking friendly words, being in a crowd when we thirst to be alone, and so on and so on. The study of Christ’s life on earth reveals Him to us as incessantly busy, yet taking special seasons for prayer. It seems to me that we should imitate Him in this respect, and when we find ourselves particularly pressed by outward cares and duties, break short off and withdraw from them till a spiritual tone returns. For we can do nothing well unless we do it consciously for Christ, and this consciousness sometimes gets jostled out of us when we undertake to do too much. The more perfectly He is formed in us the more light we shall get on every path of duty, the less likely to go astray from the happy medium of not all contemplation, not all activity. And to have Him thus to dwell in us we are led to pray by His own last prayer for us on earth, when He asked for the “I in them.” Let us pray for each other that this may be our blessed lot. Nothing will fit us for life but this. In ourselves we do nothing but err and sin. In Him we are complete.
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Her Husband called to Chicago. Lines on going to Dorset. Letters to young Friends, on the Christian Life. Narrow Escape from Death. Feeling on returning to Town. Her “Praying Circle.” The Chicago Fire. The true Art of Living. God our only safe Teacher. An easily-besetting Sin. Counsels to young Friends. Letters.