Document 4: Hannah Warner to Andrew Warner Jr. and Elizabeth Clark Young Warner, 15 March 1841, Typescript copy in Robert S. Fletcher Papers, Box 10, Record Group 30/24, Oberlin College Archives.
At the time Hannah Maria Warner (1820-1888) wrote this letter to her parents, Andrew Warner Jr. and Elizabeth Clark Young Warner, she was just beginning her studies at Oberlin on the collegiate level, having completed work in the Oberlin Preparatory Institute during the previous term. Infused with religious fervor, she described her activities and seeks to recruit her brother (who never attended Oberlin). Warner received her B.A. in 1845 and an A.M. in 1848.
Oberlin , March 15, 1841
Dear Father, and Mother
I have great reason to bless God for giving me such parents as you are, I frequently am constrained in the overflowing of my heart, to bow and pour out my soul in Thanksgiving to God, for placing me where young, in a place where my inclinations were restrained, and my will was subservient to yours. I can hardly be thankful enough, that you kept me from vicious society. Although I used to think sometimes it was very hard to be denied indulgences, which many of my schoolmates enjoyed, but now, there is no other thing, aside from redemptions plan, that calls forth more gratitude than that I was not left to follow my own inclinations, and passions in childhood; for it I had, ten chances to one my feet would now be taking fast hold on death. Though you performed this part of my education admirably, still, I think you were greatly deficient in religious exhortation and warning. When did father or mother correcting me for a fault, take me aside, I mean to pray and in the agony of my errors, and sins, leading me to the Savior, as the cleanser of all my pollutions must answer never. And should this be so? I say no! It is the duty of every parent, when correcting a child to pray with him and point out his sin plainly to him, tell him, how much it grieves you hearts, and the heart of God, to have him do wrong and that it should be his first business, to repent and ask the forgiveness of God, his parents, and all whom he has injured. This appears to me the best way for gaining their confidence, making them candidly all their guilt and leading them to repentance, which if genuine will restrain them, from subsequent commissions of the same fault. Do you not think so? You may say, it would take a great deal of time. I know that, but God has never given you, or any other parent, the destiny of immortal souls without giving time enough to train those souls for him, and whosoever neglects to do this, is in the broadest sense of the word robbing God. I think of you, my dear parents, as holding a responsible station. You have under your direction minds, whose existence ends not at death or the destruction of this world, but that will live as long as eternity's unnumbered ages shall endure; minds, whose influence will be felt forever and that influence will be the means of sending thousands of souls to endless perdition, or placing them as glittering gems in the crown of the most High. Seeing the influence they must necessarily exert in the world , is not their training of more importance than any earthly pursuit? Surely it is: but you have not to do this great work alone, no, the Lord is waiting, to assist you; he is holding out his hand filled with precepts for you guidance, which he says "if you take for the man of your counsel, and train up your children according to their dictates, when they grow old they will not depart from the path of duty." This promise of God is as immutable as any other, and why should not you expect, if your children do wrong, that you have neglected some duty on your part. God has indeed blessed you greatly in giving you a great family and has blessed your efforts in leading many of us to himself, but still there is a great work for you to do. I fear lest some of us, who profess to love God are deceiving themselves, or other.
There must be a thorough work; an entire subduing of the will, a relinquishing of every idol, a giving up of the world, and self to God; finally an entire consecration of body, soul, and spirit and a determination to do every known duty in the spirit and meekness of Christ. Religion does not consist in going to meeting, and praying; there may be a great deal of this done and not be a spark of religion about it; neither does it consist in emotion, though he who is holy, and sympathizes with Christ will have emotions, and here I think a great many are deceived, they will go to meeting and get their emotions excited and shout, and pray, but the remaining part of the week they are altogether like the world, selfish, greedy after filthy lucre, and as abominable according to their powers, as the Devil himself; but it does consist in a radical change of heart, in having the supreme preference or choice of our mind taken from the world and self and placed upon God, and when this is done it will be as natural for us to serve him, as it was before and to serve ourselves; it would be utterly absurd to say, that we loved God with all our heart, (and we know he accepts of nothing short,) and still say that whoever loves another supremely will make all his powers subservient in pleasing and obeying the one lover; I do not mean to say by this that all who commit any sin, are not christians, but that those who do not habitually overcome temptation and have a consciousness that they please God, have no reason to think that they are christians; finally it consists in a purely benevolent heart, making its possessor happy, and through is instrumentality making all happy, with whom he associates. "It is astonishing," says Mr. Finney, "how much religion consists, in performing well out everyday duties at home; in having order pervade all our pursuits; and in having everything done when, and in the manner it ought to be; in trying to please everyone, and making everything capable of enjoyment, as happy as possible." The secret of pure religion is hid so deep in the casket of pure benevolence, so adorned with the tapestry of simple child like confidence in God, that few have ever, on account of the selfishness and pride of their hearts, stooped sufficiently low to grasp the prize and thereby to attain that which will give them in every circumstance a perfect resignation, a holy delight in the will of God.
I find great joy in believing. The longer I stay here, the more I see the necessity of having on the whole armor of God. Only think of the world all polluted with sin; professing Zion groaning beneath its chains and no doubt mostly in the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity; having a name to live and being yet dead. When I think of these things, I can hardly forbear exclaiming "who is sufficient for these things?"[A] There is a great call for laborers, all things seem sunk in ruin, but the mild breezes of the gospel, the general rays of the sun of righteousness; the spirit of God would reanimate all things and cause the now barren desert and thorny wilderness, to bud, and blossom as the rose; to abound in chrystal fountains of living water, which will impart to those drinking thereof, joy, peace, and in indescribable pleasure, which all else cannot take away. Should we not be abundantly recompensed for spending our lives, if we could only be instruments in effecting the change?
I think I should, and I intend as far as I am able, to overturn, and demolish sin. I have never thought to tell you that I joined the church last September? The question was repeatedly asked me, after my arrival in this place why I did not do so; I could find no sufficient excuses, for if there were no churches, religion would soon die, and I found no sectarionism here, I found a church many members of which bear the image of Christ, and with whom, I felt it would be a privilege to walk. I think my influence is better than it would otherwise be consequently that I can do more good. I think it is the duty of everyone to unite with some church. I think my mind was prejudiced on that point, when I came here, and it seems to me that if you would look at the subject in its true light, that you would see it best, to join some church.
As it respects Warren's coming here you must be your own judges. I mentioned in my letter to brother Anson that I was living to Mr. Carrier's, I have since that time gone back to Mrs. Bardwell's where I boarded last summer because I could get my board cheaper and I thought as she had no one to assist her and Mrs. Carrier had two young ladies, that it was duty to do it. Mr. Bardwell says he will board Warren, for $1.00 per week, but as he is a blacksmith, he cannot furnish him with much work, perhaps he would give him some work, in the garden but I think he could get work enough other places to pay thought I don't know but six shillings a week. I can't tell much about it, but I suppose it will depend a good deal on his faithfulness, and capability of accomplishing work. They give the best hands on the farm, but five cents an hour, and you can tell better than I how much he would earn. Rooms are from $4.00 to $6.00 for 9 months (our year of study.) If Mr. Bardwell does not move, which I think he will not, Warren can have a room in the house which he rents, and that would be very pleasant for him, and me. The moral, and religious privileges, I do not hesitate to say, are better than any where else. I know of no place where they have, societies for all kinds of reform, and the gospel is preached in its purity, as in Oberlin. I would wash and mend his clothes. Which would save him a great deal, and as he would want to go through college, I would let him take my books, which would lessen his expense a great deal. I do for him just as well as I could, and if I were to give my opinion, I should say have him come by all means, as soon as he can get some one to come with him, at least as far as Cleveland. I do not think it would be safe to have him come alone, as he is not accustomed to traveling. I think of nothing else, that it would be necessary to specify, if you are in doubt concerning any point go to the catalogue, which I sent Andrew last fall. I cannot tell how much it would cost him a year, but I know it will cost him more than it does me, only as I should do his washing, and let him have books. I do not let my feelings guide me in this, if I did, I should say let him come whether or no, but I have looked at the subject candidly and think it would be the best place you could put him. If he should come he would want about the same things I had, just as much bedding except woolen sheets. Get him a supply of shirts, pantaloons, etc. You need not make his bosoms, and collars, for I had just as lives do it, and you have so much work. He would be as likely to have good health here as at home, I think. I have not taken the least particle of medicine, since I have been here, except some molasses one night for a cold. Perhaps it would be interesting to you, to know what my habits are. When I first rise in the morning (about 5 o'clock) I bathe in cold water, (I have not missed more than four mornings this winter) in a cold room; scour my teeth, comb my hair, shake up my bed, and raise my window. At 6 o'clock we have prayers, directly after breakfast. I work, (between 7 and 8 in the morning) from 8 to 12 I study except Wednesday from 9 to 10 the young ladies meet in the assembly room, where our principal takes our accounts and lectures on various subjects, such as wearing corsets, injurious effects of drinking tea, and coffee, the necessity of forming good habits, manners, etc. Ten minutes past 12 o'clock we have dinner, at one P.M. I go to recitations and remain in Greek recitation an hour, and in Latin an hour. At three I go home to work, two days in a week. I have singing school from 4 to 5 and one day we have preaching. Once in two weeks, Wednesday evening I attend the Young Ladies literary society.[B] Every week, Thursday evening my bible class has a meeting. My composition class is Monday from 1 to 3 o'clock, p.m. I write once in two weeks. I work in all three hours a day for my card. Saturday in A.M. I wash. I do not have a spare moment during the week. I have had very good success in my studies, ever since I have been here. It is very necessary that you should form correct habits, so that the children will have them. It is very important, not only that you bathe and obey all your physical laws, but that you do it from principle, and have tender consciences on these points. I want you to feel, when you neglect to take care of your health, in any way without it is absolutely necessary, for example in working too hard, and more hours than you ought to, you as absolutely sin against God as if you stole. Religion consists in doing our duty, and our duties consist not only in praying, and singing, (although these are included,) but also in performing what persons of bad habits call small thing, arising and retiring at particular hours, having meals regular, everything clean and in its place, to bring it to a point it is to have order and neatness pervade everything. I feel very much the need of your batheing it would more than pay the cost, just in washing clothes. I have thought a great many time, how hard the boys' bedclothes were to wash, and I know they would not be so, if they bathed. The faculty of this institution have passed a regulation that no young lady shall become a member of it, who will persist in wearing corsets. From this you can see in what light they view the subject, and no doubt it has destroyed more lives, than almost anything else. Do not let our girls wear them, for if you do, you will only place temptations to lace tight in their path. See that your consciences are clear on this point.
My dear parents, walk with God day by day. Be so firmly established that nothing can move you from the Rock, Christ Jesus. I desire that you may be perfected, going on from strength to strength, every day. I pray that you may bear the image; exhibit the spirit of and possess no more selfishness, than, Christ Jesus. Do come out from the world and be separate, and now I want to ask you if the world is not a great temptation to you? Do you not love it? Have you not some idols? Would you be willing, if you knew tea was poison (which I suppose cannot be denied) and you knew that it was injurious to your health, to give it up? If you would not, what can it be called but an idol? Do think of this. Pray for me much that the Lord will over shadow me always with the wings of his love, and do for me much more that I can ask or think. Walk softly before the Lord, and do all his will. You can't think how much I should value a visit home. May the Lord bless my dear parents.
Love to Uncle Campbells, Henmons and Mays, tell them from me to be firm, and unwavering in the service of the Lord. Remember me when you rise up and again lie down; when you go out, and when you come in; at the family alter; in the closet, and let the aspirations of your souls, be as grateful incense to God, that I may possess in all things, at all places, in all circumstances, the meekness and humility of Christ.[C]
A. 2 Corinthians 2:16
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B. This note appears in the transcription.
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C. This note appears in the transcription.
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