A Letter of Carl Olaf Rosenius

translated by Elder M. Lindahl

The heart’s idolatrous love of visible things—Answer to an anxious friend.

Dear Brother. God’s peace!

When I read your letter through, I knew only, that the more I loved you the more misery the letter revealed. Oh, my dear brother, I see so well how it is with you. I know your nature partly through personal contact and partly through your letters which clearly reflect your entire being. I believe I can say that I know what the sickness is. It cannot therewith be cured, but possibly relieved somewhat. No, you will for the most part suffer with it as long as you are here on the earth.

Have you read about stubborn diabetes and how much severity and tenacity in diet is required if it is to be conquered? Just such a constant and rigorous severity are demanded here to keep the senses from following their disposition to hold you in their grasp—just as a diabetic must avoid the possibility of situations in which sugar can build up in his body. He must eat unsalted meat and clear soup. So your nature to look at meat, at that, which is only "hay and straw," namely for yourself and other people is an endless strong inclination. You are constantly aware of things, as they appear, feel, and are heard. This awareness hardly permits you to experience the Eternal, the Permanent, Great, Truth, and Reality, which is only God. As a counterweight against such nature (I am not thinking seriously that you are exceptionally alone in this for we all suffer with the same sickness [love of worldly, material possessions]; some also have a disposition of another kind, to the supernatural, to the fantastic, and so on), I know two great truths which would be the right medicine and ought to be the goal from which the eye never should rest. These two truths are:

1. All humankind is a nothing, only a wind, only hay, only dust, and is the leaven of all hell’s evil, poison, and snake venom and,

2. God is alone all—all power, all grace, goodness, faithfulness, love, and holiness— in both spiritual and bodily things. In other words, it would be helpful for you to give special attention to the themes in Romans 9:16-23, Psalms 139, Job 38-39, Isaiah 43, 45:2-7, and many other verses. From such texts, deeply implant these practical considerations in your mind:

a. Everything that happens to me or ever can happen to me is in every detail allotted to me by my Heavenly Father in His wisdom, kindness, and power—as Jesus says, "not one hair of your head falls without His will." See also Lamentations 3:37-38.

b. All that I have sinned or will ever sin, shall never disturb my standing in grace so long as Christ is my life and sin is my pain and torment. Yes, though your sins are blood red, as in Isaiah 1:18, they shall be white as snow. Take all of God’s Gospel as help and refresh your soul abundantly so that you become completely certain that you, nevertheless, are God’s child. Despite all your wickedness, God never keeps track of your sin. Then you will obtain new desire and power to destroy sin, wrath, and impatience. Repair your real errors and keep better watch in the future. But take care to do this on conditions of faith so that you do not sink down again in your wretchedness.

That’s the most important. God help you, dear brother, to more and more confirm your heart with grace.

— Stockholm, April 21, 1859

Carl Olaf Rosenius, Letters with Spiritual Intent, pp 423, 424.

Elder Lindahl is a retired North Park University professor living in Golden Valley, Minnesota.

See all articles by Elder M. Lindahl