As our Feature in this issue concentrates on the development of daughters and younger sisters in our  meetings, we have chosen as our “Our Heritage” article a selection from two addresses written by Sister  Jane Roberts, but read by Brother Robert Roberts, for the young women in the Birmingham Ecclesia.  The mature guidance they contain is as relevant today as it was then, and has been for all time. These  two talks have been published in one booklet and entitled “Sister Jane Roberts to Younger Sisters”. It is  available in ecclesial libraries and from the CSSS. We would urge all sisters, young and old, to obtain a  copy and read them.

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 everything.

“One thing is needful,” said he to Mary; 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 19th century [and the 21st century  too—Ed] are just in as much danger as was Martha  of 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. How  many lament that they have not time to read, and  the consequent lack of spiritual vigour. They wish  the blessed hope of the glorious time that is coming  were a greater power with them in every day life,  and they have to acknowledge that they do not find  time to read as they could wish, yet if any one of that  class were to be laid on a sick bed, with the prospect  of leaving earthly things for ever, she would see  that these earthly things had held too high a place  in her thoughts; that less service to the present, with  its fleeting concerns, would have sufficed, and she  would now have been better prepared for yielding  up her mortal life, had she given only a little more  of her time to getting acquainted with what she will  be face to face with when she emerges from the  grave to which she is hastening. She will be likely  to think and to say, as I have heard it said in such  circumstances, “Oh, if I had my time to live over  again I should give more time to reading the Bible”;  and, again, in another case, “There are many things  I should like to do if I had another chance. I wish I  could have another chance.”

Only One Chance

Well, dear sisters, we have but one brief life. Today  will never return. There is no safety but in  making each day just what we shall wish we had  made it when we come to look back upon it from  a dying bed, or from the judgment seat. Our life is  short—no one knows how short. It is short even  at the longest. The young are apt to think there  is plenty of time, and that when they get older,  they will begin to be more in earnest. The young  sister in Christ would do well to be on her guard  against this fallacy. You have a great advantage in  receiving the truth in your youth, if you wake up  to it. Most of you who are young hope to live to  be old, if the Lord delays his coming. What age  would you like to live to? Fifty? Sixty? Seventy?  Eighty? What could you hope to do for Christ at  that age? If you put off serving him till you are  older, the chances are you will never do anything  at all. It is a delusion to think you will serve him  by-and-bye—later on in life, when the things of the present will be less attractive. Remember, you will  be in the future what you are now, in an intenser  degree, according to the direction you are growing  in. If you are unconcerned now about being engaged  in the service of Christ, you will be more so when  you grow old, and you will be less able to begin a  different course then, for your energies will be less  vigorous, and you will more easily succumb to the  difficulties in the way of self-denial. On the other  hand, if you are now striving to serve Christ, or are  making up your mind that you shall, without delay  proceed to make use of your opportunities, however  small. The probability is, that if you live to be old,  you will find yourself still and more actively in his  service—busy even in advanced age in some way  or other, showing your love, and faith, and hope.  A life-long accumulation of service will then stand  to your account, and you will be able to stand in  the day of inspection. You will not be ashamed,  for you know you have not been idle or negligent.  They may have only been little deeds that you have  been able to do, still, you have always been doing  the little that was possible. What a satisfaction in  retrospect, and what a joy to hear the Master say,  “She hath done what she could!” What a reward for  present self-denial is the prospect of such an ending  to mortal toil! Who would not make the attempt to  win in such a warfare?

Many Difficulties, Doubtless

There are, doubtless, many difficulties to be  encountered which are peculiar to youth, and it  is to be feared many are hindered in the path of  wisdom by these difficulties. It is well for the young  sister to recognise at the outset that the path to the  kingdom of God is not a flowery one. There are  green spots for the weary pilgrim to be met with  here and there; but these refreshing places are only  arrived at through the rough and difficult paths of  daily duty. Do not make the mistake of expecting  the way to be pleasant. If the young pilgrim thinks  that by making a wise choice, and picking her steps  as it were, she may manage to keep in the sunshine,  and with pleasant surroundings all the time, she is  apt to be discouraged, when she finds that much  cloud and darkness at times beset her. She is apt to  think there is something wrong, because she had  imagined that if she tried to do right, she would be  sure to be happy, and make others happy, too. And,  instead of being happy, she is often very much the  reverse. It is well, therefore, at the start, to know  what you are to expect, and much depends upon a  correct view of this matter.

A Wrong Pattern

A young sister, in being introduced to the ecclesia,  where there are many young people besides herself,  is apt to think that she will have in these a pattern  how she ought to act, and that she will be safe  in doing as they do. The consequence is that in  many things she will be misled; for not many of  the called are acting in a way to secure their being  chosen at last, and while thinking she is copying  one who is on the way to eternal life, she may only  be following an example that will ultimately prove  her ruin, because many are deceiving themselves  and others, whose true position will only be made  manifest at the judgment seat.

If she would find true help—the right pattern—  she must seek it where it can, without doubt, be  found. The Scriptures alone in our day are to be  trusted as an unerring guide; therefore, the daily  reading of them is indispensable. There is no  chance for those who do not read the Scriptures.  The things of the present are so incessant and  pressing in their claims upon our attention, that  without this antidote—this rectifying power—the  mind, however naturally gifted, must succumb  to the power of the present considerations and  present pleasures. Apart from the reading of the  Word, regularly and prayerfully, the young aspirant  after eternal life will find she has undertaken an  impossible task. In the Scriptures she has her  pattern, her guide, her model, by which to shape  her life. She will have to be very determined to  get this daily help, and the effort will have to be  kept up, otherwise the apparent urgency of other  things will crowd it out of the programme. Let it,  therefore, be a fixed rule of life with her, that come  what may, she will have her daily reading of the  Scriptures. Let some other matter stand on one side,  if it comes to be a question of which is to be done  and which left undone—the reading or something  else. She will find if she acts on this principle, that  what some have pronounced impossible, is not only  possible, but at last delightful—the one green spot  in the day. We all know how things do get put on  one side when anything very important happens.  Now this daily reading of the Scriptures ought to be  regarded in the light of one of the most important  things that could happen to mortals in our day. A  message from heaven. Shall you take time to hear  it? It is more likely that you will win the battle of  life if you do. Ten minutes, quarter of an hour, or  at the most twenty minutes, will suffice to get into  your mind something that will remain with you  as a power for the coming day. You will be more  ready to remember what you ought to do in any  circumstance of difficulty if you have listened to  the Spirit’s voice in this form, than if you have not.  You will be better able to rule your temper during  the day if you have than if you have not. You may  sometimes have to lament that your opportunities  for serving Christ are few. Here is one way in which  you can serve him. Sit at his feet and listen. He  commended Mary for doing this, when her busy,  bustling sister wanted her to come and do something  else. You may, by the power of his words, glorify  God by your manifest subjection to his commands;  and the constant reading in the Scriptures of what  others have done by faith in God, will no doubt lead  you to discover ways and means of serving that you  had not thought of.

Companions

There is one very 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 young  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 out 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 also are 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 up 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.