My dear daughters

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Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
(An excerpt from a letter from Legh Richmond to his daughters. This one is longer--but it is choice. Must reading for parents and their children.)

My dear daughters,
With a heart full of affection, I sit down to express a few sentiments and intimations of my wishes, as connected with your conduct. Keep them constantly with you, and let them be read over, at least once a week. May God render them useful to you!

AMUSEMENTS. Plays, balls, concerts, cards, dances, etc., etc.
Serious, consistent Christians, must resist these things, because the dangerous spirit of the world and the flesh is in them all. They are the 'pomps and vanities of this wicked world,' so solemnly renounced by God. To be conformed to these seductive and more than frivolous scenes--is to be conformed to this world, and opposed to the character and precepts of Christ. Those who see no harm in these things--are spiritually blind; and those who will not hear admonition against them--are spiritually deaf. Shun, my dear girls, the pleasures of sin--and seek those pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore. You cannot love both!

BOOKS.
The characters of people, are speedily discerned by their choice of books. I trust that you will never sacrifice time, affection, or attention to novels. Do not be ashamed of having never read the fashionable books and novels of the day. A Christian has no time, and should have no inclination for any reading which has no real tendency to improve the heart. There are too many valuable books on a variety of worthy subjects, which ought to be read--to allow for time to be dedicated to unwholesome and useless ones!

MUSIC.
Shun all the wretched foolishness and corruption--of light, silly, and amorous songs; on the same principle that you would shun books of the same nature. Sacred music is the true refuge of the Christian. I wish your ears, your hearts, and your tongues were often tuned to such melodies. The play-house, the opera, and the concert-hall--have deluged our society with perversions of the heavenly art of music. Music was designed to lead the soul to heaven--but the depravity of man has greatly corrupted God's merciful design for music.

DRESS.
Aim at great neatness and simplicity. Shun finery and show. Do not be in haste to follow new fashions. Remember, that with regard to dress--that Christians ought to be decidedly plainer, and less showy than the people of the world. I wish it to be said of my daughters, "With what evident and befitting simplicity, are the daughters of Mr. Richmond attired."

BEHAVIOR IN COMPANY.
Be cheerful--but not gigglers.
Be serious--but not dull.
Be communicative--but not overbearing.
Be kind--but not servile.
In every company support your Christian principles, by cautious consistency.

Beware of silly or thoughtless speech--although you may forget what you say--others will not.

Remember! God's eye is in every place, and His ear is in every company!

Beware of levity and familiarity with young men; a sincere, yet modest reserve, is the only safe path. Grace is needful here; ask for it--you know where.

PRAYER.
Strive to preserve a praying mind through the day--not only at the usual and stated periods--but everywhere, and at all times, and in all companies. Prayer is your best preservative against error, weakness and sin.

Always remember that you are in the midst of temptations; and never more so than when most pleased with outward objects and people.

Pray and watch; for though the spirit is willing--yet the flesh is deplorably weak.

RELIGION.
Keep ever in mind--that you have a Christian profession to sustain--both in pious and worldly company. Be firm and consistent in them both. Many eyes and ears are open to observe what you both say and do--and will be, wherever you go. Pray to be preserved from errors, follies, and offenses, which, bring an evil name upon the ways of God.

You may sometimes hear ridicule, prejudice, and censure assail the godly--it ever was, and will ever be so! But, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven!" Do not be ashamed of Christ here--and He will not be ashamed of you hereafter.

Initiate and encourage serious conversation, with those who are truly serious and conversable. Never go into pious company, without endeavoring to improve the souls of others. Whenever you can find a congenial friend, talk of heaven and eternity, and your soul and your Savior. This will be as a shield to your head--and your heart!

ESTIMATE OF THE CHARACTER OF OTHERS.
Look first for grace. Do not disesteem godly people on account of their foibles, or deficiencies in matters of little importance. Gold, even when unpolished, is far more valuable than the brightest brass. Never form unfavorable opinions of religious people hastily, "love hopes all things." Prize those families where you find consistent family prayer; and suspect evil and danger, where it is avowedly unknown and unpracticed. Always remember the astonishing difference between the true followers of Jesus, and the unconverted world--and prize them accordingly, whatever be their rank in society.

Good manners and piety form a happy union; but poverty and piety are quite as acceptable in the eyes of God; and so they ought to be in our eyes. Experience proves that the proportionate number of the truly godly among the poor, is much greater than the corresponding proportion of numbers among the rich.

Your affectionate father,
 

Tripel

Puritan Board Senior
AMUSEMENTS. Plays, balls, concerts, cards, dances, etc., etc.
Serious, consistent Christians, must resist these things, because the dangerous spirit of the world and the flesh is in them all.

I had a hard time reading the rest after this. The "dangerous spirit of the world" is in everything, because this world is fallen. Plays, balls, cards, etc are no more inherently evil than anything else.

-----Added 2/19/2009 at 09:46:42 EST-----

I trust that you will never sacrifice time, affection, or attention to novels.

We are story-telling and story-loving creatures. Our imaginations are wonderful things, and I frankly find it ridiculous to suggest that novels are an unquestionable waste of time.

-----Added 2/19/2009 at 09:55:09 EST-----

Plays, balls, concerts, cards, dances...Those who see no harm in these things--are spiritually blind;

I must be blind as a bat. If there's harm in playing a game Go Fish, I am deeply wounded.

-----Added 2/19/2009 at 10:04:24 EST-----

...and I apologize for being so quick to criticize. I should have first stated that there is indeed a lot of good content in that letter, but there's also a good bit that is way over the top.
 

Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
One must be extremely careful of how much and what of this world he allows into his life. Spending time watching the T.V. is one of the worst wastes of time I know of. We sit and hear God's name blasphemed and don't bat an eye these days. Sex is paraded in front of us and anti-Christ wordviews and we allow our kids to soak it up. We've come a long way since the time of the writing of this piece (Mid 19th century I believe). Sin and vice no longer bother us as much.
 

Knoxienne

Puritan Board Graduate
Good principles to meditate on and just as applicable today. This is one of those writings which, as you read it, your eyes smart from the sting it brings, but enjoy it immensely all at once - sort of like a good fresh picante salsa or wasabi with your sushi.
 

Tripel

Puritan Board Senior
Some good stuff there, but I totally agree with you, Daniel.

I'm a little surprised nobody else has voiced objection to some of this. I think the overall purpose of the letter is good, but the specifics are outlandish...even for the 19th century.

-----Added 2/19/2009 at 05:54:54 EST-----

One must be extremely careful of how much and what of this world he allows into his life.

Absolutely. That point is well taken. But condemning everything as wicked is not the way to do that. In fact, I think that is a lazy response to the world in which we live. Rather than teaching our children to flee from anything secular, we should be teaching them how to evaluate the things of this world through the lense of Scripture.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
I was an English major in college. I taught English. My husband still teaches English. Our shelves are full of books, both religious and secular. My children's shelves are full of books, both religious and secular. We have no mind to change that, and in fact, hope to raise book lovers.

I went to a Reformed college, Geneva College (the college of the RPCNA). One of the things that I learned there, for which I am most thankful, is how to enjoy created things--not what to enjoy. In my own teaching, I did not have enough time before my firstborn came along to establish this teaching skill, but that was my goal, and with my own children, that is still my goal. I wholeheartedly believe that all wisdom comes from God, as does all truth. However, I do not believe that Christians have a copyright on all things good or true. Therefore, I think truth and wisdom are to be found where they exist.
In our humanities classes, we learned a way to examine the works of man in a way that shows the worldview being presented in such a work. We learned to ask tough questions of the artist: Who made you/Where are you from? Why are you here? Where are you going?

My desire is for my children to enjoy literature and art and music, but not passively. I hope they will learn how to engage the piece and test it against the scriptures. I think that reading, even novels, does make one smarter, wiser, and more able to glorify God.

Simply put, I enjoy the beauty that has been permitted to exist for man's pleasure .
 

Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
We can enjoy the good things, but with this scriptural guideline:

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
 

Tripel

Puritan Board Senior
We can enjoy the good things, but with this scriptural guideline:

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

That is true, but I think that passage is often misused. Many people (I'm not assuming this about you) think that Php 4:8 is making a distinction between what is sacred and what is secular. There is truth and justice to be found in that which is specifically Christian as well as that which is of the world. I mentioned this in another thread, but there is virtue in going to the concert hall to hear Mozart performed--music written by a worldly man, but which still reflects the order and truth of God. The same can be said about all of the arts--they don't have to be "sacred" in order to be good.
 
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