Excerpts from a paper presented to the “Young Women of the Christadelphian Ecclesia” by Sister Jane Roberts in 1883. The advice is timely and just as applicable in 1995 as in 1883.

A whole year has rolled away since last we met together in similar circumstances. Our last meeting was held at the close of the year 1881, now we find ourselves in the first week of 1883.

Tonight, as on the last occasion, the meeting is specially convened for the benefit of the sisters who are young in years, and consequently young in the Truth, the object being to stimulate and encourage those who are already faithfully working and to induce others to bestir themselves to take part in, or to increase by greater diligence their share in the toil while their day lasts.

Companions

 There is one great danger to which young sisters are exposed, and that is the companionship of the young, even in the Truth. Folly is so natural to youth, that it is next to impossible for the young to get out of it by themselves. They require help. Next to reading, the most important help is proper companionship. It cannot be too strongly impressed upon the young disciple that she is not too young to obey the commands of Christ, and that if she is to secure his favour and friendship, she must be careful in this respect. Whatever helps you in this direction is to be sought after. Whatever hinders is to be avoided. There are two ways of carrying out this wise rule. You can leave the society which you find frivolous and vain. But this is not enough. You ought to be brave enough to speak to your companions upon the things which constitute our hope. The day’s reading will give you a ready way of doing this. Why not introduce profitable conversation among the young, as well as with the old? Are you to be shamed of your good resolve, because you may be laughed at for being of a serious turn of mind, as it will be called? If you are wise, you will disregard this reproach, and persevere in your endeavours to make wisdom rule among the young. In introducing topics of a profitable nature, do not be afraid to explain that you do so in order that you all may be helped to do what all probably feel and know they ought to do, and to occupy yourselves in a way that will be well pleasing to God, and that you shall not regret at last. If this may not be, rather be silent than join in foolish talking, which is forbidden. You need not be unsocial on this account; but you can choose your company, and you can keep out of company that is hurtful. The young sisters will find it of advantage to get into the company of those who are older than themselves, when they can avail themselves of that privilege, so that they may accustom themselves to sober ways, and by this means they will acquire the power to engage the attention of their younger companions, and to sustain the effort which this may require. They must be on their guard when in the company of those who are of their own age, not to be drawn into the flippant and smart ways of worldly young people, whose manners indicate a total lack of reverence for God or man. It is some time before worldly ways are got rid of, even by those who desire to do so. Be courageous in this matter. You know what is required of you by the Master, who is now your Lord, and will shortly be your Judge.

Peace of Mind

 Nothing will make you happier at the close of the day than the thought that you have been courageous for him – that is to say if you are truly his. If you have really given yourself to him, and have not merely joined the ecclesia so that you might pass muster as a sister. Some will prove at last to be mere wood, hay and stubble. Such will not continue, if they even begin in the way of wisdom. The parable of the sower explains to us how it is that some who begin in seemingly a right way, do not hold on. They are hindered by the difficulties, and give in when they find that before wearing the crown they must carry the cross. But some will receive the good seed in the right spirit, prepared to go where and to do what their Lord commands. “They bring forth fruit with patience, they endure to the end”. These are they who trim their lamps daily, whose light shines with a steady brightness, always ready to reflect the truth in some shape or form – in testimony for its maintenance against error, or in rejoicing in the hope which has been enkindled by its loving reception. They are also the class who take the means to have the seed sown in their hearts well watered, both in the attendance of public meeting, and in the private reading and study of the Word. No wonder that the seed withers in some hearts. It has been planted down among so many thorns that it is choked, and the thorns, or things of the present, receive all the moisture, and grow accordingly. The two classes have always existed from the beginning, and they exist today. We cannot always distinguish them while they are in course of development. They require time to be manifested; but meantime the process is going on in each case which will ultimately ripen – in the one case, resulting in acceptance with joy unspeakable, and in the other with rejection in anguish unavailing. No one will be rejected but the disobedient, who might, by taking heed, have been among the joyfully accepted. Be careful, then, that nothing is left undone by you which you can possibly bring to bear to secure this endless life of well being which will bring you everything you deem desirable now, or could possibly wish to possess. “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” is the language of the true child of God, and at every stage of life this is the language of earnest desire to do the things that please Him. Get into the right way yourself – be sure you are in it, and then see what you can do to help others in it. Continue in this endeavour, however long your day may last, and you will not be found lacking when you are called upon to give an account of your stewardship.

Companion for Life

 No sister will treat this subject with indifference who has regard to the ultimate issues of life. It is a subject which has often been mentioned, and one would think must be well understood, and yet we are constantly hearing of sisters making alliances with those who are not in the Truth. Even during the year that has just gone, we have had cases of this direct disregard of apostolic command, not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. A sister who contracts such a partnership is laying up for herself untold sorrow in the future. She is sure to be greatly hindered in her endeavours to fulfil the law of Christ, and the chances are, as has actually happened in almost every case where a sister has married an alien, she will be turned entirely out of the way. Let the young sisters be most careful not to form even an ordinary friendship with any who is not a brother; but above all not to consent to be united for life to a man who is not a brother. Do not deceive yourselves with the idea that it will come all right after marriage. If a sister can help an unbelieving friend it is while yet unengaged. Do not trust to promises of putting matters right after. The matter is too serious to be left to after chances. If there is a chance of your influencing such a friend, you have a greater chance of doing so if you withhold your friendship until he has first yielded obedience to the Truth, then he would be in a position to be your true companion and helper. So much of your future happiness and welfare depends upon a wise decision in such matters, and duty to Christ is so clear in the matter that you cannot be too earnestly entreated to give it your most serious consideration, and as you sow now, you will afterwards reap.

Prayer

 Another secret in the growth of the good seed in the youthful, but good soil, and next in importance to the reading of the Word, and indeed, to be placed along with it, is daily prayer to God. At first it is not possible to realise how great a help this is, nor how great the privilege of being permitted to approach God, as a child of His; in confidence that He will hear and answer our petitions. It is generally some dire affliction or strait to which she is brought that brings the young sister to this, and sooner or later this experience of affliction and chastisement is the lot of all who are born into the family of God. It will be much easier and a sweeter comfort to come to God in affliction, if from the start we make it a rule to pray to Him daily. The very coming to Him, in the spirit of submission, in supplication for forgiveness and guidance, will give tranquillity to the mind – a gladness that there is some one very great who cares for you, and who has promised great things in the future, and asks you to share them. Your knowledge of God will grow, and while your reverence for Him will increase with that knowledge, you will prize more and more the unspeakable boon of being allowed – nay, invited to come near to Him in the name of Jesus. The oftener you take advantage of this invitation, the more likely you will be to appreciate it, until your approaches to God will become seasons of communion, in which you will rise much higher than you could at first, for now you will be able to realise more of His greatness and majesty and of His exalted supremacy as the Creator of all things, His surpassing goodness in all that He has purposed for us in the future, in having called us to be co-workers with Him in His glorious scheme to redeem this earth and its inhabitants, and to fill it with His glory. You will better realise to what a high and holy calling you are called by the gospel, and you will better realise who it is that has called you, and what He requires of those whom He has thus called. And while you will never be beyond the need of all the care which you found necessary at first (for the heart is deceitful, and we are always liable to be drawn aside by the allurements which appeal to the old man of the flesh), still these exercises of reading and prayer to God form a powerful aid to the subjugation of the old man, and the development of the new.

Help in Trouble

 And when trouble comes to you – real afflictive trouble, you will find that there is true help to be found in prayer to God. He does help, He does sustain, He does comfort in trouble. You may think many grievous thoughts about the trouble, how it might have been avoided, and that you have brought it on yourself, and fear that in your case God has had nothing to do with it, and fail to receive the help you so much need, because you do not ask or expect it. Now, in whatever way the trouble may have come, if you belong to God, it has not come by chance. He guides your affairs. He plans your good and your evil. You must have evil. We all scheme to keep out of it, and if we could manage it we should never have any trouble, and we should then not be suitable for God’s purpose at last. Human nature requires to be chastened that it may be purified and made meet for the Master’s use. It is God’s plan, because in His wisdom it is the best, the only plan whereby this erring nature may be perfected for the glorious destiny He has in store for it. Let not the young sister then be cast down when trouble comes, but rather recognise it as God’s fatherly dealing with her. Let her seek His presence and ask His strength. He has promised it. It is in times of weakness we require it. Trust Him when things look dark. His power is equal to letting in the light upon your path. “Who is there among you that feareth God and walketh in darkness and hath no light, let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God”. Wait upon Him, He will hear you and answer you, but perhaps not as you expect or wish at present. Still have faith that all will be for the best, though it seems otherwise. His word cannot fail, and that is our confidence.

 Have the Right Rule of Life

 It is everything with us to have the right rule of life before our minds. Natural and spiritual things are for the most part antagonistic in their tendencies. For the most part truly, because there is a place for the natural as well as the spiritual. The great object to be attained is to have them in their proper relations one to another.

There can be no mistake as to which is to have the pre-eminence in our hearts and lives. Our Lord and Master is our authority here, as in every-thing. “One thing is needful,” said he to Martha; and that would be his answer to many of his sisters now if they could hear his voice in reply to many anxieties. Many of the things they think very needful to be done, he would not think needful, that is to say, not indispensable. It is not needful in many cases to bestow all the care upon the things of the present which many – nearly everybody – does. We have to study to get a truer view of the present than is presented by our external surroundings, otherwise the sisters of the nineteenth century are just in as much danger as was Martha in the first, of giving too much prominence to that which is of a merely passing nature, and leaving too little time and energy for the things of Christ.