I Will Conquer Myself
by the American Sunday-School Union
In one of the oldest towns of New-England there
lived, many years ago, a little girl, whom I shall
call Helen Earle. Her father had been engaged in
the East Indian trade, and had accumulated great
wealth. Her mother was a sweet, gentle woman,
who most tenderly loved her children, and endeavoured
to correct their faults, and develop their excellencies.
In Helen's home there was every comfort
and every luxury that heart could desire, but
she was not always happy. She had one fault, which
often made herself and her friends very unhappy.
It was the indulgence of a violent temper. She
would allow herself to become exceedingly angry,
and her usually beautiful face was then disfigured
by passion. Her mother was greatly grieved and
distressed by these outbreaks of ill temper, and did
all in her power to restrain them. She talked with
her daughter earnestly in regard to the sin of such
a temper. Helen would weep bitter tears, and express
much regret for the past, but she could not
quite make up her mind to determine to overcome
temptation. The task seemed too difficult, and she
shrunk from the attempt.
Mrs. Earle shed many tears in secret over this
sad failing in her beloved child, and most fervently
pleaded for help from Him who had given her the
care of this immortal spirit to educate for eternity.
She knew that God alone could change Helen's
heart, and give her power to overcome sin, even
though assaulted by the fiercest temptation.
One day, when Helen was very angry at something
which had occurred, her mother led her up
stairs to her own room and left her alone. For a
time she cried violently, then she grew calm and
quiet, and her mother could hear her walking back
and forth across the room, talking to herself. She
listened. How her heart rejoiced when she heard
her repeating, again and again, "I will conquer
myself! I will conquer myself!"
And Helen did conquer herself. She had come
to the determination, not that she would try to conquer,
but that she would conquer, and, by the gracious
help which is always given to those who ask,—she
nobly succeeded. From that hour she was able
to overcome the temptation, and was not overcome
by it. She grew up to womanhood remarkable for
the evenness and gentleness of her temper. None,
who had not known her in childhood, would have
suspected that she was not always thus mild and
Helen did for herself what no earthly friend
could do for her. By the power of her will she
controlled her impulses, and this triumph was of far
more value to her than all the wealth of her father.
It made her a blessing to her friends, strengthened
all her good purposes, and enabled her to perform
the duties of life without the friction which a bad
temper always occasions. It gave her that true self-respect
which elevates the character, and which none
can feel who are not conscious of the power to rule
their own spirits.
No child is blamed for having a quick temper,
but he is blamed if he allows himself to be overpowered
by it. If he really determines, as Helen
did, to conquer himself, he will succeed. The old
proverb, "Where there is a will, there is a way,"
will never fail in such a case as this. "God helps
those who help themselves," and he is ever ready
to assist us in subduing what is wrong in our own
The Bible contains many passages which condemn
anger: "He that is soon angry, dealeth foolishly."
"Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry, for anger
resteth in the bosom of fools." "Make no friendship
with an angry man, and with a furious man
thou shalt not go." "He that is slow to wrath is
of great understanding, but he that is hasty of
spirit exalteth folly." "Let every man be swift to
hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of
man worketh not the righteousness of God."
All habits grow stronger by indulgence. If you
allow yourself to become angry to-day, you will
more easily become so to-morrow. If you control
your temper to-day, it will be less difficult to control
it to-morrow. Helen's victory was obtained by
decision. To form the determination to conquer
herself required more effort of will and more
strength of character than any subsequent struggle
with her besetting sin could possibly require.
If you have any fault which you wish to correct,
you must fully make up your mind to succeed. You
must resolve that you will conquer. If you should
occasionally be overcome, yield not to despair, but
with renewed courage try again.
"On yourself and God relying,
Try, keep trying."