As Bessie grew older, Mrs. Worthington chose the twilight hour for confidential talks with her daughter. Both looked forward to these times with pleasure. Each evening after the daily duties were ended, Bessie might be found sitting at her mother's feet. Here she related the many happenings of the day and in turn received instruction and advice from the one who held her confidence. Here the mother taught her child the secret of true devotion. She instructed Bessie that prayer, good reading, and meditation are the keys to use to unlock God's great storehouse of blessings. She pointed to the Bible as a pattern by which to fashion one's life, pointing out to her the many scriptures bearing upon different subjects and telling her how every modest, earnest Christian ought to dress and act in order to adorn the gospel of Christ. She encircled the word |purity| with such a halo of glory that she awakened within the heart of her child a determination ever to live so pure a life that she would not only keep herself stainless but also help others to that sacred and elevated plane.
Upon one of these occasions, when Bessie was in her twelfth year, she said: |Mama, why don't we go to the meetings that are being held at the schoolhouse on Sunday? The girls have asked me several times, and I have told them I didn't know. They have a minister from a distance, and he has taken the names of all who want to join the church.|
|That is a deep subject, my child,| said Mrs. Worthington. |I have often wished to explain to you my reasons for not attending the public services held in our neighborhood by the different denominations, but have feared you were still too young to understand, for the matter seems hard even for some older persons to comprehend. But I will tell you and trust the Lord to make it plain.
|My parents taught me that it was my duty to attend religious services at least once a week. This I did, and professed to be a Christian until I was a young woman. I knew that I loved the Lord and wanted to do right, but found that I could not always do right in my own strength. I was daily doing things that displeased the Lord. I became so troubled about my condition that one day I went to the minister, and, telling him how I felt, requested him to pray for me and to help me to get a real Bible experience. In answer to my request, he only smiled and said, 'You are too particular. You might as well try to split a hair as to try to live a holy life in this world.'
|As I returned home that day, I was very sad indeed. Oh, how much I longed to be like Jesus, whom God had given me as an example! I knew the Bible taught that if we expect to enter heaven we must live a pure and holy life. I was determined to do this -- but how was I to do it? To whom could I go for help? Most of the church-members were so worldly-minded they thought of little else than a good time, and the few spiritual ones were afraid to tell how they felt, for fear of their minister's displeasure.
|At last I decided to seek from God and his Word what my soul was longing for. As I sought, I began to see I had been deceived. I found that as God looked upon mankind, he could see only two classes of people -- the righteous and sinners; and I saw that I was a sinner.
|By reading the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians, I learned that Christ's body is the church; that to become a member of the church my name must be written in heaven; that every Christian in the world is my brother or sister in Christ; the Lamb's book of life is the only class-book in which our names need to be recorded; and that our names are removed only because of our turning again to sin. To me these thoughts were both new and marvelous. I saw that every saved person in the different denominations is a Christian and a member of God's true church, but I knew that such persons were unable to worship God aright for fear of displeasing their ministers or of breaking some of the church-rules. And when I read in 2 Cor.6:14 that we are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, I felt that I must come out and stand alone. This I promised God to do at any cost, and asked him to give me a Bible experience. He answered my prayer; and I was so happy that I walked the floor for a long time, clapping my hands and praising God.
|Because of the course I had taken many misunderstood me and thought I was partially insane. Even your dear papa thinks so still, but I dare not grieve God by going back.
|I have had some dreams that have greatly encouraged me. The first was given while I was wondering why I could not find any one who believed the whole Bible. I seemed to be standing in a meeting-house; the service was ended and nearly every one had gone home. I noticed a woman in great distress. Going to her, I found that she had a very sore hand and that she was alone, with no one to help her home through the darkness. With her consent, I quickly picked her up in my arms and carried her safely through a long, dark, narrow passage. As we passed along, I spoke words of encouragement to her. Suddenly we came out into a large open field carpeted with flowers, and there I laid her down, saying, 'How nicely we have gotten along alone.' Then I awoke.
|For some time I could not see the meaning of the dream. At last I understood that the afflicted woman was I myself and that the Savior wanted to carry me through the dark and dangerous way of life alone.
|At another time I dreamed I was riding on a locomotive. Again I was alone. The seat that I was sitting on was so small I had to be very careful lest I be injured by the machinery around me. I didn't think of danger while the train was in motion; but as it drew up at a certain station, I began to consider my position. The thought came, 'What will people think of me? They will certainly say I am stealing a ride.' I remembered my ticket, and, placing my hand upon it, I felt satisfied. At the next station I could see inside of the passenger coaches. I had a good view of the passengers in one of the coaches, and I recognized the prominent members of the denomination I had lately left. As they sat in their cushioned seats, carelessly talking to one another, they all seemed happy and contented. My own condition then arose before me, and I felt lonely indeed and thought, 'I will step down from my little seat and enter the coach with the rest.' I was just about to do this -- even had my hand upon the door knob -- when I realized that I had left my dress in the little seat, and again I awoke.
|The dream seemed very plain in every way. My ticket was my experience and title to heaven, and the dress left up in the tiny seat was the robe of Christ's righteousness. While alone and contented, I was all right, but to return to the denomination would mean to leave both robe and title behind.
|Still, God has given me some devoted Christian friends, who are willing to live as the Bible directs, and with these I worship as you know, dear, in our little weekly prayer-meetings. I trust that some day your father will see and will understand me better, and that we can worship God together. But I will be faithful even though I should be forced to walk alone.
|Now, dear, I trust you can see that the true church is Christ's body and that every soul is a member as long as he continues to live a pure and holy life. Whether he is a member of some sect or not, sin will cut him off; and if he continues to profess as I did, he is a hypocrite in God's sight. 'Come out from among them and be ye separate' is a command that every Christian should obey.|