THE FOLLOWING extracts from a letter in which one dear Sister in Christ relates to another her temptation of the Adversary along Christian Science lines will be interesting, and we trust profitable, to many of our readers. She writes:
"My dear mother seemed always to 'hunger and thirst after righteousness.' She was so glad to know and understand every word of truth as it was brought to her, and rested in it. She used to say, 'It is all perfect peace now.' That was after you were gone. She had never read any of the Dawns except the first volume and part of the fifth. I read part of the second to her, but it was only just the beginning. I cannot be glad enough that it was given her to know so much of the blessed truth in the short time that she had left; yet I have thought that if she had never known she might have been living even now in that same tired, almost hopeless way. Indeed the doctor blames the truth entirely, and has been very bitter against it [R3095 : page 316] and all our people ever since. When mamma was taken down sick she was not nearly so bad as usual, but she did not seem to change much, either for better or worse for a long time. One day the doctor called me into the parlor and said: 'I do not know what to make of your mother's case; unless she can be aroused to exert herself and try to throw off the disease she will run down very fast, and nothing can then be done for her. She seems bright and cheerful, but she has no power of resistance in herself, or else she is not trying to live. I am doing all I can; if you know any way to arouse her you can do more for her than any of us.'
"After he went away I told mother just what he had said. She replied: 'That is not so: I am trying to get well; but it must be just as the Lord wills, he knows best.' The doctor had told me that had it not been for her strong will she could not have lived through several previous bad attacks (she said she must get well for the sake of her children), and it was now so different! This time when I reminded her that the children needed her more than ever, she said: 'The Lord knows best what they need, and I will be with them as long as he pleases.'
"Years before I had heard some people—and intelligent ones, too—argue that any strong willed person could not only keep another alive for years, but could even raise the dead by sheer force of will. Isn't that a crazy idea? Well, just then I would have believed anything; I became simply possessed with the thought that since the Lord would not help her I could and would, if only my strength would hold out until spring.
"For months I never left her room except for a few minutes at a time, not even going down stairs to meals for days in succession; I just took a cup of coffee in the hall, and sometimes I would not leave even for that. Of course, I used every means in my power; giving her medicine regularly until the doctor told me to leave them off as her stomach was too weak for them to have any beneficial effect. I spent a great deal of time rubbing her until she became so sensitive that she could not bear that; but when those terrible cramps or sharp pains came in different parts of the body, they were stopped almost instantly if I laid my hand on her. I could put her to sleep in less than two minutes by putting my hand on her head, or by taking hold of her hand, and she slept just as long as I sat beside her even if I removed my hand; but if I left the room she was awake instantly. One day she told me it made her nervous for me to look at her, so I went over on the other side of the room to sit. In a few minutes she called me to come back because she felt so strange if she could not see me all the time. I was almost afraid to think of other things for fear of forgetting my purpose even for a moment.
"After a while she began to think that something was not just right, and said so; but for a time she was puzzled not knowing what to make of it. One day she said, 'I could die so easy if you would only let me!' Another time she said, 'The Lord is going to take me anyway, but if you would only let me go it would be so much easier. I did the same thing with your father and kept him alive and suffering for weeks, knowing that it was resisting the Lord's will; but he took him at last in spite of all I could do, and it will be the same with you.' Of course, I pretended not to understand her, but I was never so frightened in all my life, nor so determined to have my own way whatever came of it. So I did not lie down day nor night for three weeks, for fear of getting sleepy; and I did not dare to feel tired during all this time. The doctor came regularly every day, but he gave no medicine; he would inquire how she had passed the night and all about her; once he told a funny story to make her laugh, and said to me, 'Keep right on as you are doing, she is getting along splendidly.' And she really seemed to be doing so, and she grew strong enough to sit up and talk and read, and even walked a few steps one day. At last the doctor said: 'If you could hold out two weeks [R3096 : page 316] longer we shall have her out of doors, and she will soon be as strong as ever, once she gets out into the air, and you can have a long rest.' I said I was not tired—did not believe in resting, etc. He wanted to know if I was not a Christian Scientist; I said, 'No; of all silly things Christian Science is the worst; every one of those people must have softening of the brain.' 'Well,' said he, 'you are the queerest person I ever saw; what do you believe?' I answered, 'I am too busy to think about beliefs.'
"About that time came your letter in which you spoke of the high calling, and of consecration as the giving up of your own wills entirely to the Lord. You seemed to think it a duty as well as a privilege for those who saw it,—but it seemed to me that I had never so much need of my own will as just then;—for two weeks longer to get mother out. I thought if your letter had only come two weeks later, when she would be strong enough to get along without me it would have been all right; for as she gained strength I let her help herself, only watching her all the time so as to be ready to help her whenever she needed me. I never forgot that she was my mother, and that I had no right to have any influence over her actions, only while it was necessary to help her during her great weakness. That was the way I looked at it; besides, I had begun to be tired as the strain grew less. I was so excited over that letter of yours that mamma noticed it and asked about it; so I read her that part of it where you spoke of angry parents being 'imitators of God as dear children' by torturing their children with red-hot pokers, etc.! How we both laughed over that! But for the rest—What if the Lord wanted to show that his way was different from mine, and should undo all of my work (for I certainly thought that it was all my own doing)! On the other hand, he might take his own way anyhow. He was stronger than I, and could do it, that I knew. I studied then as I had never done before—mostly the Bible—to see if there was not some promise or something else which gave us the right to demand certain things in return for service. You know, how discouraging such a search as that would be! The [R3096 : page 317] verse 'Like as a father pitieth his children' reminded me so much of my own dear father, with whom I should have been glad to leave everything;—and the matter was decided.
"Mamma knew the difference from the first, though I never told her in words, and she was so glad and so satisfied. Our dear Father and his precious promises—our blessed hope—she could not talk enough of these things; but she grew so much weaker that she could not bear to have anything read to her, so I used to read and tell her just a few words at a time; even talking made her head ache and I could do nothing for her after that time. Yet she was so patient and contented (though she suffered all the time); still we thought it was the bad, rainy weather, and I never thought that the Lord's will was so different from mine until it was too late to change. Then I was sure that I had done wrong in order to selfishly secure what I had thought would be peace with God,—that in abandoning my self-will I had deliberately sacrificed a human life, which was a blessing to and needed by others, and which could not be recalled! Has not Satan the strangest way of helping us to reason backwards, and twisting things out of place until one can not tell right from wrong? During the day all was confusion, but at night the house was quiet, and there was time for study and prayer. The dear Lord showed me so plainly that all these things were in his hands, not mine, and you know how close he will come when we are anxious only to know and to do his will. Romans 8 made so clear that which was partly explained in the very letter that had seemed to cause so much trouble in the beginning. Since then I can truly say,
I am so glad to leave everything in his care. Perhaps one reason is that I have had no great temptation to do otherwise since; but I am not looking ahead for temptations, only trusting for today. When I think of all the dear Lord has done and has promised it seems almost too much!"