As Bessie approached her sixteenth year, Mrs. Worthington became very anxious about her. The mother thought that she could notice a change in her daughter's actions and disposition. Instead of being confiding and happy, she seemed listless, forgetful, and nervous. At first the mother could not understand this change; but by close observation she found that her daughter was indulging in light reading.
Some magazines and weekly papers containing continued love-stories had found their way into the Worthington home. At first they were not attractive to Bessie. She would merely glance through the pages; but she gradually came to overlook the good, substantial reading and to enjoy the part that stimulated the romantic and imaginative part of her nature. The effect upon her mental and moral powers was much the same as that produced upon the digestive organs by rich and stimulating foods. Her mind was thus weakened and robbed of its relish for wholesome reading. She was ever looking forward for something to excite or satisfy her abnormal desire for the romantic or the dreadful.
As soon as Mrs. Worthington realized her daughter's danger, she sought an opportunity to instruct her on the dangers of novel-reading. |Some effects of novel-reading,| said she, |are worse even than those produced by dancing. Many novels are hurtful because of the many false ideas interwoven in the stories. Some novels attract the pure-minded by their morality; but it is unsafe to read them, for the reason I have already given you, and because, as with any bad habit, the exciting influences must be constantly increased. In this way some persons are deceived and drawn into many of Satan's snares.
|In most novels there is much that is good and true; but the immoral, the worldly, and the untrue are so interwoven with it that the reader unconsciously finds himself taking pleasure in thoughts which, before he began reading novels, would have been disgusting. In this way the reader's sense of right is lowered and an appetite created -- an appetite that can not be satisfied; the more it is fed, the more depraved and exacting it becomes. Gradually the desire for the romantic increases until the novel-reader longs to have a romance of her own. Her sense of duty is so blunted and her better judgment so blinded that she often agrees to a secret marriage with some one who is wholly unfit to be her life companion. It is in this way that many a girl has been deceived and led into sin. Many times, too, habits have been formed, from which nothing but the grace of God could deliver. In looking back over a wasted life, many a person can see that his or her downfall had its origin in the first novel.
|My dear child, there are many good books that you will find both helpful and interesting, but the Bible should be the pattern of your life. Let it be the principal food for your mind and soul. Your time all belongs to God, and you should waste none of it in reading unwholesome literature.|
As Mrs. Worthington finished speaking, she was glad to see a changed look in Bessie's face. She knew that God was talking to her daughter; and as she arose to go, she said: |Bessie, do not forget from whom you may expect strength. I am praying that God will entirely take away the unnatural appetite which you have been fostering.|
It was not long until Bessie rejoiced in full deliverance from her taste for novel-reading, and her interest in her mother's talks returned. As they read the Bible together and praised God for the precious truths it contained, cherishing them within their hearts as priceless treasures, Bessie's understanding seemed to open, and she was able to comprehend many of the deep truths of God's Word. The reading of God's Word gave her such unbounding joy, such complete spiritual happiness, that nothing could compare with it. Its truths, so simple and yet so grand, were at once a guide and a reproof to keep her feet from straying from the narrow way.