Guard Against Coquetry
Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
I have been shown that Satan's specious temptations will come to the workers in every mission, to the workers in every institution in our land, to encourage familiarity, the men with the women. I write with a distressed heart, that the women in this age, both married and unmarried, too frequently do not maintain the reserve that is necessary. They act like coquettes. They encourage the attentions of single and married men, and those who are weak in moral power will be ensnared. These things, if allowed, deaden the moral senses, and blind the mind, so that crime does not appear sinful. Thoughts are awakened that would not have been if woman had kept her place in all modesty and sobriety. She may have had no unlawful purpose or motive herself, but she has given encouragement to men who are tempted, and who need all the help they can get from those associated with them. By being circumspect, reserved, taking no liberties, receiving no unwarrantable attentions, but preserving a high moral tone and becoming dignity, much evil might be avoided.
A woman who will allow an unchaste word or hint to be uttered in her presence, is not as God would have her; one that will permit any undue familiarity or impure suggestion does not preserve her God-like womanhood.
Some may think these warnings unnecessary; but God has shown me that they are necessary in every mission, in every college, in every institution that we have established.
The wise man has said, "Rejoice, O young man in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore, put away evil from thy flesh."
We are in a day when iniquity abounds. There are those who have but little moral sense; self-pollution has been practiced, and the moral powers are benumbed. Such have no just sense of holiness or purity. They are corrupt, and will corrupt others. Miserable wrecks of humanity are everywhere. Some put on a religious garb; but the soul is defiled, and they corrupt other minds. They call evil good, and good evil. They are Satan's most efficient agents, and individuals of this stamp will connect with our institutions and with God's instrumentalities, masking their evil ways under a pretention of godliness. Can we then be too particular, too circumspect? Safety lies in close adherence to rules and regulations in harmony with God's great moral standard of righteousness. And then there are those who, if so disposed, will find ways to secretly carry out their own inclinations, and pursue a course of deception to avoid the censure of those they deem so particular.
Some who have influence, who are apparently working for the interest of the Sanitarium, encourage by their own course of action a disregard of rules and of order; and the influence of such persons goes a long way toward encouraging insubordination, especially in the direction of courtship and marriage. The parties are unfitted for their duties; they live an unreal life, indulge in too high and romantic visions of bliss, and in their desire to please each other, they become unfaithful.
The ideas of courtship have their foundation in erroneous ideas concerning marriage. They follow impulse and blind passion. The courtship is carried on in a spirit of flirtation. The parties frequently violate the rules of modesty and reserve, and are guilty of indiscretion, if they do not break the law of God. The high, noble, lofty design of God in the institution of marriage is not discerned; therefore the purest affections of the heart, the noblest traits of character, are not developed.
Erroneous Ideas of Marriage
Not one word should be spoken, not one action performed, that you would not be willing the holy angels should look upon, and register in the books above. You should have an eye single to the glory of God. The heart should have only pure, sanctified affection, worthy of the followers of Jesus Christ, exalted in its nature, and more heavenly than earthly. Anything different from this is debasing, degrading in courtship; and marriage cannot be holy and honorable in the sight of a pure and holy God, unless it is after the exalted scriptural principle.
These precautions may be regarded as unnecessary. But those who will plead for greater liberty are not worthy to be connected with these institutions. Mild license is termed liberty and freedom. But those who are professedly sons and daughters of God should elevate the standard, and have no fellowship with the unruly who would have rules and regulations made to meet the cases of the disobedient.
The Sanitarium, unless hedged about with vigilant rules and regulations, would soon become a hot-bed of iniquity. There are those who would entrap and mislead souls; they have a spirit to revile, instead of showing respect for those who carry the burden and seek to keep up the standard. The less of such persons employed, the safer and purer will be the moral atmosphere of the Sanitarium. There always will be persons who will find entrance to such an institution, whose influence will be for evil. They are of that class who are continually putting bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. There are professed Christians who will warp the conscience and becloud the mind, under the pretense of godliness; and those who do not see nor sense the danger are already the dupes or victims of Satan. Let every youth take heed to his ways. Let every medical student build his foundation on the eternal Rock. PH 167, 37-41.
Instruction Regarding Association
It is not a time when marriage should be regarded in the light of felicity. It is uncertain business. More misery than happiness is the result; and yet marrying and giving in marriage is as it was in the days of Noah. There seems to be no restraint; but passion and impulse have controlling power, and youth seem to be bewitched with love-sick sentimentalism. For this reason rules and regulations are highly essential to guard those connected with the Sanitarium, the College, and the Office of publication; and any one who regards these restrictions as unnecessary has not spiritual discernment, and will prove a hindrance rather than a help.
Many seem to think these precautions are not essential, and their deportment pleads for greater liberty than the law of God allows them. It is an imperative duty to preserve the soul from impure thoughts and unholy actions. Iniquity abounds, and our Saviour lifted his voice in warning.
As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away.
The Sin of the Age
Sensuality is the sin of the age. But the religion of Jesus Christ will hold the lines of control over every species of unlawful liberty; the moral powers will hold the lines of control over every thought, word, and action. Guile will not be found in the lips of the true Christian. Not an impure thought will be indulged in, not a word spoken that is approaching to sensuality, not an action that has the least appearance of evil.
The senses will be guarded. The soul that has Jesus abiding in it will develop into true greatness. The intelligent soul who has respect unto all of God's commandments, through the grace of Christ will say to the passions of the heart as they point to God's great moral standard of righteousness, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed," and the grace of Christ shall be as a wall of fire round about the soul.
There are those who will say, "Oh, you need not be so particular. A little harmless flirtation will do no injury." And the carnal heart urges on to temptation, and to the practical sanctioning of indulgences which end in sin. This is a low cast of morality, not meeting the high standard of the law of God.
The vileness of the human heart is not understood. There are always individuals connected with our institutions whose characters are cast in an inferior mould, and they need but a word of encouragement from those in higher positions to take liberty to gratify the unholy heart. There are those at the Sanitarium that are not open sinners; they hide their sins from human eyes; they have a fair outward morality; but the Lord's eye sees them. They find means to gratify the low sensual propensities; their lives are tarnished, and they are tarnishing others by their example.
With a Pretense of Piety
These very ones carry a pretense of piety, they offer prayers, hear testimony in meetings, and are apparently serving the Lord; but their hearts are corrupt, their conduct is condemned by the law of Jehovah which they profess to keep. There are those who are not guilty of these gross transgressions, but who do not have spiritual discernment, and see no necessity of putting up the bars, and of guarding every point lest iniquity should be practiced in our institutions. They cannot see any harm in the young people's being in one another's society, paying attention to each other, flirting, courting, marrying, and giving in marriage. This is the main engrossment of this time with the worldlings, and genuine Christians will not follow their example, but will come out from all these things and be separate.
In our Sanitarium, our College, our Offices of publication, and in every mission, the strictest rules must be enforced. Nothing can so effectually demoralize these institutions, and our missions, as the want of prudence, and watchful reserve in the association of young men and young women. Give them freedom to go and come as they will in each other's company, and they will regard it as a restriction of their rights to be bound about with rules and regulations. Those who plead for the liberty to associate together are soon spoiled with love-sick sentimentalism; the enervating influence of this much-to-be-dreaded disease unfits them for their duties, and they cannot fill any position of trust. The ever-increasing potency of vicious indulgences is so great and so strong that there is little room to hope for the recovery of souls who are thus afflicted, unless they can see the matter as God sees it, and become so thoroughly disgusted as well as agonized over their course of action that they will have that repentance that needeth not to be repented of. PH 167, 32-35. Read Titus chapter 2.
A Pitiful Sight
Satan is making determined efforts to overcome those who advocate the commandments of God, that their principles shall become tarnished, and their lives corrupt. It is a pitiful sight to see young men who are bound by no marriage ties, pursuing a foolish course, exhibiting the disease of love-sick sentimentalism. They are unbalanced in mind, and have lost that sense of propriety of conduct so essential for a noble virtuous character. But that which is the most to be deplored is to see married men who have companions and children, fanning around the girls, and the girls making advances to them or encouraging their attentions. These attentions becloud the mind, benumb the senses, as to the line that distinguishes right from wrong. Impure thoughts, indiscreet actions, unholy conduct, and next the seventh commandment [is] transgressed!
Indolence and gratification of unholy passions enslave the soul, and hold the victim in chains of steel. There are agonizing struggles after his lost moral freedom, but he seldom is again a free man; he has stepped on Satan's ground, and becomes the object of Satan's temptations. The standard must be the holy law of God, and every approach toward familiarity or attention of married men with young girls or with married women should be positively condemned. The plea of these liberty-loving young men and married men is for a little amusement, a hungering of sympathy, a little self-indulgence. They do not think of such a thing as weakening moral character or their power to resist temptation, nor of becoming vicious or impure; but they are tempting the devil to tempt them. The only safe course is to keep free from all these things.
Avoid the First Wrong Step
Do not see how close you can walk upon the brink of a precipice, and be safe. Avoid the first approach to danger. The soul's interest cannot be trifled with. Your capital is your character. Cherish it as you would a golden treasure. Moral purity, self-respect, a strong power of resistance, must be firmly and constantly cherished. There should not be one departure from reserve; one act of familiarity, one indiscretion, may jeopardize the soul, in opening the door to temptation, and the power of resistance becomes weakened.
The Psalmist, when viewing the many snares and temptations to vice, inquires, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?" This question is appropriate for every one connected with our missions and every instrumentality of God. At this stage of our work, the answer comes, "By taking heed thereto according to thy word." It is necessary to maintain a living connection with Heaven, seeking as often as did Daniel, "three times a day," for divine grace to resist appetite and passion. Wrestling with appetite and passion unaided by divine power will be unsuccessful; but make Christ your stronghold, and the language of your soul will be, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." Said the Apostle Paul, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others I myself should be a castaway."
Let no one think he can overcome without the help of God. You must have the energy, the strength, the power, of an inner life developed within you. You will then bear fruit unto godliness, and will have an intense loathing of vice. You need to constantly strive to work away from earthliness, from cheap conversation, from everything sensual, and aim for nobility of soul and a pure and unspotted character. Your name may be kept so pure that it cannot justly be connected with anything dishonest or unrighteous, but will be respected by all the good and pure; and it may be written in the Lamb's book of life, to be immortalized among the holy angels. PH 167, 35-37.
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