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February 2011

Self Has a Thousand Voices

It seems to me, in looking back, that the Master never used a more unfit and wretched instrument to do His work than when He used me. In fact I know He never did; and I don’t wonder that He has laid me aside. If He needs me He will use me again someday, and meanwhile I trust He will fashion me into a vessel a little better fitted for His service. I cannot say that the fashioning process is pleasant “No chastening seemeth for the present to be joyous but grievous” but, nevertheless do pray, dear Abby, that it may work in me the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Whenever I go to work again for my Master I want to do it without one remnant of my own strength and totally in the strength of His Spirit. I feel, dear Abby, that we cannot follow the guidance of this blessed Spirit too clearly, nor lean too much on His power. And I fairly burn sometimes to go among the dead Christians and preach my convictions with regard to it. It is a glorious doctrine, but oh so little understood by the great bulk of those even who make it one of their principal articles of profession. How few among them for instance ever get out of self; how few realize that as to themselves they are dead, and it is only Christ who is alive, and they in Him! Yet until we are really out of self we cannot have any certain guidance.


Self has a thousand voices that assume the appearance of divine ones, and the heart that has any regard left for it is easily deceived. But let the soul lose absolutely all concern for self; let it be indifferent to its reputation; careless of its honor; inattentive to its ease; let it be really and practically to itself a stranger and what is there to hinder a clear discernment of the Spirit’s voice? Oh, to be freed of every selfish interest in our own perfection, joy or consolation so that we may think only of the interests of God! To no longer ask anything for ourselves, but only that He may be glorified! This, dear Abby, would be self-abandonment in earnest, and why should not we seek after so blessed and happy a state?


Only I am so far, so far off from it! This makes me sigh and mourn. But God, the great Husbandman, is able to work greater wonders than even this.


—To Abby, Millville N.J., August 20, 1865


Smith, H. W., & Dieter, M. E. (1997). The Christian's secret of a holy life : The unpublished personal writings of Hannah Whitall Smith. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.