Homer, Iowa, March 10, 1861
Dear James,

When I wrote last I intended to write again in a few days but the same procrastinating spirit which led me to put off writing on the subject of your marriage for months previous to its success has kept me from attending to it till now. The reluctance for I felt it as such has not arisen from indifference but from the importance of the step you were about to take and now have taken. Having no knowledge of Lizzy, I did not feel at liberty to risk any advice on the premises (?). But now that your election is made "and that is all over" -- that serious views of life must if ever ? be entertained and knowing no reason why Lizzy should not be numbered among the objects of immediate affection and welcomed to our humble domestic circle this reluctant restraint has passed away.

My dear children, I trust you will constantly ?pray? to the Lord to direct your every step in life. So shall the true ends of marriage be attained. Happiness in this life ?prepares? for Heaven, and a spiritual union which is to be eternal.

There are three great epochs in human life. Birth, marriage, and death! The first commences or introduces a state of endless being. The 2nd more than ?tinges?, it determines to a great degree the quality of the man, while the 3rd ushers in the final state of happiness or not which life has fitted us for enjoying. Every particular of the Divine providence is to fit us for and draw us to heaven, and as the kingdom of God must be formed within us before it can be enjoyed, and [as] this can be done only in the exercise of our reason, and liberty, we may invert or pervert the whole, and be unhappy! Marriage itself, the great institution for humanizing and drawing us our of the love or ourselves into the love of others, and into the supreme love of God and as a consequence into the enjoyment of heavenly happiness, may be turned into the procuring cause of the greatest misery here and hereafter. We are born sensual, this is we are influenced by the senses only. By the acquirement of knowledge we rise to the natural state into which the Brute is born, but if we stop, a knowledge of natural things and desire to possess them, we halt in the middle of the course intended for us, and in no ways surpass the "beasts that perish" except in duration. Now as we become ration in natural things by acquiring a knowledge of them, and of their uses, do we become ration in heavenly things by acquiring a knowledge of spiritual things, when we apply this knowledge to the regulation [of our] conduct, which will lead us to clearer views of our spiritual constitution and wants and make us truly wise. The wisdom thus acquired is not "fossilized" but eternally progressive.

I intended to write you a series of letters with reference to marriage and its instrumentality in opening in our minds all of the fountains of heavenly ?beatitudes? not in this life only but more fully in the next. Indeed in this life, internal and surrounding evils have such power that the scene at best is checkered with disappointment, trials, sufferings of varied form! These sorrows or chastisements are necessary to drag into light closely inhering evils which otherwise could not be seen, much less be acknowledged and put away as sins against God! But instead of these letters, I have concluded my purpose will be better attained by sending you a book which is mailed with this letter. I hope you will both study it carefully, and may the Lord bless you with that wisdom which can be obtained from him alone who is the Light and Life of the world.

We are looking now with anxiety for the president's inaugural to see whether he breathes peace or war and strange to tell, many are anxious for the latter. I hope he will see it is now too late -- that cession belongs to the past, for which he is not responsible, but I feat that madness will rule the hour! --

We have a great amount of snow. As much as in ?5-6-7?, but not so cold as that [was?] the cold enough. Was glad to see the statement of the temperature in Mobile for several years. Changes in warm climates seem harder to bear than in cold. Forest trees are not killed or split by 30 to 40 degrees below zero, nor are hens frozen on the nest in anything deserving the name of a hen house in this latitude much as the winds often aid in removing the animal heat.

The spring opens promising more so than it was thought it would. The snow drifts were so deep.

As to the matter nearest my own heart as well as that of all, I am at a loss to know what to say. I refer to your coming home. There is land for you to operate on, and there is no doubt about making a successful living and more too if it is desired, not would the attention be greater than is necessary in any other business while the irksome and ? confinement is wholly dispensed with. Nor need the land be hard if rightly managed. What there is in the ? there is industry wanted which is wanted in any other employment. There is some capital or patience ? economy in its stead and last but not the least by far, there is union of effort wanted. Farming requires the attention of several who will take the right kind of interest -- divide the labor of care and at times manage different parts of the operation. I need this spring someone fit to go to market with stock (as I must sell and pay off) while these should ? those left in charge of house operations who have more experience and push than can be expected of boys.

I have concluded not to send the book Conjugal Love till I hear from you again as I doubt somewhat the postal arrangements in the present state of affairs.

We think times begin to look more encouraging here, not that money is much plentier. But people are far better and those who will pay are getting out of debt, and we are getting to it. The rapidly increasing population of the northwest must soon ... land here. In this view of the subject, I would like to see you here. If you did not like it, we could tell in a short time and have the means of ... elsewhere.

Your affectionate father

J.H. Williams

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