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 lovely.

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 spirits.

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."