Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1 (1844 - 1868)


Lt 17, 1868

White, J. E.

Greenville, Michigan

July 27, 1868

This letter is published in entirety in 2T 261-268.

Dear Son Edson:

I write this for your nineteenth birthday. It has been a pleasure to have you with us a few weeks in the past. You are about to leave us, yet our prayers shall follow you. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 1

Another year of your life closes today. How can you look back upon it? Have you made advancement in the divine life? Have you increased in spirituality? Have you crucified self, with the affections and lusts? Have you an increased interest in the study of God’s Word? Have you gained decided victories over your own failings and waywardness? Oh, what has the past year’s record been of your life, which has passed into eternity and can never be recalled? 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 2

As you enter upon a new year, let it be with an earnest resolve to have your course onward and upward. Let your life be more elevated and exalted than it has ever hitherto been. Have it not your aim to seek your own interest and pleasure, but to advance the cause of your Redeemer. Remain not in a position where you are ever needing help yourself, where others have to guard you to keep you in the narrow way. You may be strong to exert a sanctifying influence upon others, where your soul’s interest is awakened for the good of others, comforting His sorrowful ones, strengthening the weak ones, and in bearing your testimony for Him whenever opportunity offers. Aim to honor God in everything, always and everywhere. Carry your religion into everything. Be thorough in everything you undertake. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 3

You have not experienced the saving power of God because you have not made Christ and His glory the great aim of your life. Let every purpose you form, every work in which you engage, and every pleasure you enjoy, say I am thine, O God, to live for Thee, to work for Thee, and to suffer for Thee. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 4

Many profess to be on the Lord’s side, but they are not; the weight of all their actions is on Satan’s side. By what means shall we determine whose side we are on? Who has the heart? With whom are our thoughts? Upon whom do we love to converse? Who has our warmest affections and our best energies? If we are on the Lord’s side, our thoughts are with Him, and our sweetest thoughts are of Him. We have no friendship with the world; we have consecrated all that we have and are to Him. We long to bear His image, breathe His Spirit, do His will, and please Him in all things. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 5

You, my son, should pursue so decided a course that none need to be mistaken in you. You cannot exert an influence for good upon the world without decision. Your resolutions have been good and sincere, but have withered for the want of decision, and a firm determined purpose. You have never thrown your whole heart into the cause and work of God. You have not been earnest to obtain an experience in the Christian life. You have not fully put on Christ and exemplified Him in your life. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 6

You cannot serve God and mammon. You are either wholly on the Lord’s side or on the side of the enemy. “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” [Matthew 12:30.] Some persons seem never decided. They are always wavering and do not have determination. They are frequently convicted and come almost up to the point of surrendering all for God, but fail to meet the point, and fall back again. While in this state the conscience is hardening and becoming less and less susceptible of the impressions of the Spirit of God. His Spirit has warned, has convicted, and been disregarded, until it is nearly grieved away. God will not be trifled with. He shows duty clearly, and if there is a neglect to follow the light, it becomes darkness. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 7

God bids you, Edson, be a worker with Him in His vineyard. Commence just where you are. He bids you come to the cross and there renounce self, the world, and every idol. Take Jesus into your heart fully. You are in a hard place in Battle Creek to preserve consecration and have an influence which shall lead others from sin and pleasure and folly to the narrow way [which] is cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 8

You have a consecration to make to God, an entire surrender to God, a yielding up of everything unreservedly, and seeking for that peace which passeth understanding. You cannot draw nourishment from Christ unless you are in Him. If not in Him, you are a branch that is withered. You do not feel your want of purity and true holiness. You do not come to God in earnest for His Holy Spirit. You cannot expect the blessing of God without seeking for it, striving for it. If you used the means within your reach you would experience a growth in grace, a rise to a higher life. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 9

It is not natural for you to love spiritual things; but you can acquire that love by exercising your mind, the strength of your being, in that direction. To know the truth is not enough, but to practice the knowledge you have and bend your mind, discipline it to meditate upon divine and heavenly things, will strengthen your mind in that direction. The power of doing is what you need. True education is the power of using our faculties so as to achieve beneficial results. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 10

Why, my son, is it that religion occupies so little of our attention, while the world has the strength of brain, bone, and muscle? It is because the whole force of their being is bent in that direction. They have trained themselves to engage with earnestness and fervor in worldly business, until it is easy for the mind to take that turn. This is why Christians find a religious life so hard and a worldly life so easy. The faculties have been trained to exert their force in that direction. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 11

In religious life there has been an adopting [of] the truths of God’s Word, but not a practical illustration of them in their lives. They have not trained themselves to religious thoughts, devotional feelings. These have not been made a part of the education of the mind, influencing and controlling the entire being. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 12

There is wanting the habit of doing right. There are influences which create spasmodic action, but to think naturally and readily upon divine things, and have this the ruling principle of the mind, is not the case. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 13

We have no need of being spiritual dwarfs. A continual exercise of the mind in spiritual things will cause a force, a power, in that direction. Merely praying for this, and about this, will not meet the necessity of the case. He must live it, habituate the mind to concentrate upon heavenly, spiritual things, and exercise in that direction will bring strength. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 14

Professed Christians are, many of them, in a fair way to lose both worlds. To be half a Christian and half a worldly man makes you about one-hundredth part a Christian and all the rest worldly. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 15

Spiritual living is what God requires, yet thousands are crying out: “I don’t know what the matter is; I have no spiritual strength, I do not enjoy the Spirit of God.” Yet the same ones will become active, talkative, upon their worldly enterprise, will even become eloquent, talking upon their worldly matters. Listen to them in meeting. There are about one dozen words spoken in scarcely an audible voice. They are men and women of the world [who] have cultivated worldly propensities until their faculties are, through exercise, strong in that direction. Yet in regard to spiritual things, they are as weak as babes. They do not love to dwell upon the mysteries of godliness. They know not the language of heaven and are not educating their minds to be prepared to sing the songs of heaven or to delight in the spiritual exercises which will engage the attention and soul of all. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 16

Professed Christians, worldly Christians, are unacquainted with the heavenly things, and will never be brought to the gates of the New Jerusalem to engage in scenes which have heretofore not especially engaged their attention. They have not trained their minds to delight in devotion and meditation upon things of God and heaven. How, then, can they engage in the services of heaven, delight in the spiritual, the pure, the holy in heaven, when this was not a special delight to them upon earth? The very atmosphere they breathe will be purity itself. They are unacquainted with it all, but put them in the world, in their worldly vocations, they know just where to take hold, just what to do, for they trained their mind, the lower order of faculties have been in so constant exercise, they have been growing, while the higher, the nobler powers of the mind, have not been strengthened by use, and are incapable of awakening at once to the spiritual exercises. Spiritual things are not discerned, because they are viewed through the world-loving eyes, which eclipse the value and glory of the divine above the temporal. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 17

Ample provisions are made by Jesus Christ to satisfy the hungering, thirsting soul for righteousness. The pure element of love will expand the soul for higher attainments, for increased knowledge of divine things which will not be satisfied short of the fullness. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 18

The language of heaven has not been learned, heavenly things they have not been delighted in. How, then, could these enjoy heaven who had not delighted in the principles of heaven while in probation? They could not. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 19

The mind must be educated and disciplined to a love of purity. A love for spirituality should be encouraged; yea, must be encouraged, if you grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Desire for goodness and true holiness is right as far as it goes; but to stop here will avail nothing. Good purposes are right, but will prove of no avail unless determinedly carried out. Many will be lost [while] hoping and desiring to be Christians; but they carry their efforts no farther, therefore will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. The will must be exercised in the right direction. I will be a wholehearted Christian. I will know the length and breadth, the height and depth, of perfect love. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 20

Listen to the words of Jesus: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” [Matthew 5:6.] Most professed Christians have no sense of the spiritual strength they might attain were they as ambitious, zealous, and persevering to gain a knowledge of divine things as they are to obtain the paltry, perishable things of this life. The masses who profess to be Christians have been satisfied to be spiritual dwarfs. To make it their highest object to seek first the kingdom of heaven and His righteousness, they have no disposition to do. Therefore, godliness is a hidden mystery which they have never experienced. They know not Christ by experimental knowledge. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 21

Let men and women who are satisfied with their dwarfed, crippled position in divine things be suddenly transported to heaven and for an instant experience the high, holy state of perfection which ever abides there: The souls filled with love, joy beaming upon every countenance, the high and melodious strains of enchanting music in honor of God and the Lamb; the ceaseless streams of light which flow from the face of Him who sitteth upon the throne, and from the Lamb, upon the faces of His saints; and yet higher and greater joy to experience. The more they receive and exercise the enjoyment of God, the capacity is increased to bear more, to rise higher in eternal, immortal enjoyment, and thus continue to receive new and greater supplies from the ceaseless sources of glory and bliss inexpressible. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 22

Could that transported, unready one, mingle with the heavenly throng, participate in their songs, and receive the high purity, the exalted spiritual, transporting, glory that emanates from God and the Lamb? Oh, no! Their probation was lengthened for years that they might learn the language of heaven, that they might be “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” [2 Peter 1:4.] But they have had a selfish business of their own to engage the powers of their mind and the energies of their being. They could not afford to serve God unreservedly and make this a business. Worldly enterprises must come first and take the best of their powers, and a transient thought is devoted to God. Are such to be transformed after the final decision: “He that is holy, let him be holy still,” “he which is filthy, let him remain so forever”? [Revelation 22:11.] Such a time is coming. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 23

Those who have trained the mind to delight in spiritual exercises are the ones who can be translated and not be overwhelmed with the sacred purity and the transcendent glory of heaven. My son, you may have a good knowledge of the arts, you may have an acquaintance with the sciences, you may excel in music and in penmanship, your manners may please your associates, but what have these things to do with a preparation for heaven? What have they to do to prepare you to stand before the tribunal of God? 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 24

Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Nothing but holiness will prepare you for heaven. It is sincere, experimental piety alone that can give you a true, pure, elevated character and enable you to enter into the presence of God, who dwelleth in light unapproachable. The heavenly character must be acquired on earth, or it can never be acquired at all. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 25

Begin then, my son, at once. Flatter not yourself that a time will come when you can make an earnest effort easier than now. Every day increases your distance from God. It is a preparation for eternity such as you have not yet engaged in. Educate your mind to love the Bible, to love the prayer meetings, to love the hour of meditation, and, above all, the hour when the soul communes with God. Become heavenly-minded if you would unite with the heavenly choir in the mansions above. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 26

A new year of your life commences. A new page of the recording angel’s book is turned. What will be the recording angel’s record upon the pages? Shall it be blotted with negligence to God, with unfulfilled duties? God forbid. Let a record be there stamped by yourself of which you will not be ashamed to have revealed to the gaze of angels or of men. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 27

From your Mother. 1LtMs, Lt 17, 1868, par. 28