To Mr. W. S. Atkins:
I will now sit down to answer your letter and will straighten you up, as I used to. Remember the illustrations I used to make to you, and I will stir up your ideas by referring to my theory. You want to know if I was in earnest in regard to your learning. I was, but you, nor anyone else, can learn of yourself, any more than a person can get religion of himself. It must be the effect of a change of mind. This, you cannot understand, for your change of mind, when you got religion, was the effect of error; not of truth. So you worship, you know not what. But I worship, I know what, and, "Whom you ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you." This same Christ, whom you think is Jesus, is the same Christ that stands at the door of your dwelling or belief, knocking to come in and sit down with the child of science that has been led astray by blind guides into the wilderness of darkness.
Now wake from your sleep, and see if your wisdom is not of this world. To be born again is to unlearn your errors and embrace the truth of Christ; this is the new birth, and it cannot be learned, except by desire for the truth of that wisdom that can say to the winds of error and superstition, "Be still!", and they obey.
It is not a very easy thing to forsake every established opinion and become a persecuted man for this truth's sake, for the benefit of the poor and sick, when you have to listen to all their long stories, without getting discouraged. This cannot be done in a day. I have been twenty years training myself to this one thing, the relief of the sick. A constant drain on a person's feelings for the sick alters him, and he becomes identified with the suffering of his patients; this is the work of time. Every person must become affected, one way or the other; either to become selfish and mean, so that his selfish acts will destroy his wisdom or keep it under, and let his error reign; or his wisdom will become more powerful, till it will run away with his obligation to himself and family. It is not an easy thing to steer the ship of wisdom between the shores of poverty and the rocks of selfishness. If he is all self, the sick lose that sympathy, which they need at his hand. If he is all sympathy, he ruins his health and becomes a poor outcast on a cold, uncharitable world. For the sick can't help him, and the rich won't. It is difficult to steer clear and keep your health.
P. P. Quimby