Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1

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Lt 15, 1868

White, J. E.

Greenville, Montcalm County, Michigan

June 17, 1868

Portions of this letter are published in 3MR 129-130; 10MR 30.

Dear Son Edson:

We had rather of a weary journey because of our leaving Battle Creek so late. We did not arrive at Brother Howe’s until near midnight. Charlie horse did nobly but we found bad roads. There had been many heavy rains which have not reached Battle Creek. We are getting a little bit rested. It seems so nice to be in our own good airy rooms again. 1LtMs, Lt 15, 1868, par. 1

Edson, my dear boy, I have some perplexity in regard to you. I know you are not happy. When I talk with you, you seem at a distance from me as though my words were useless. This makes me feel bad, Edson. I can’t reach you until this barrier is broken down and you open your whole heart freely to me. 1LtMs, Lt 15, 1868, par. 2

Edson, I want you, just as soon as you can, to bear your own weight, for your good. How can you do this as well as to teach next winter? But few boys that you are acquainted with have had the advantages you have had. You have had help at every step. 1LtMs, Lt 15, 1868, par. 3

Now, Edson, for the mere item of clothes we expended sixty dollars while at Battle Creek, and counted not the work I did. This takes in shirts and all. The shirts are at Harriet’s; call for them. The time must soon come when you are of age, but we shall have no less interest in you then than we have now. Yet, Edson, you must learn. I was disheartened and so was your father, to see you so ready to put on a coat which cost twenty-six dollars, merely to walk down to the office. You need not do this. You have coats a plenty you can put on, but as you are not taxed with the getting of your clothing you don’t know the expense and do not feel the necessity of care; and sometimes I think it will never be any different. Here is a sort of slack, disorderly habit you need to rid yourself of. Edson, will you take care of your clothes? Nobody in Battle Creek goes dressed with better clothes than yourself. I am sorry, Edson, that you do not manifest more care in regard to your clothing. It does not seem to be in you to save. 1LtMs, Lt 15, 1868, par. 4

Well, Edson, I hope you will follow the light which God has permitted to shine upon your pathway. I hope you will seek for pure and undefiled religion. You do not obtain an experimental knowledge of Christ. Oh, how self strives for the mastery with you in nearly all you do. You have not meekness and lowliness of mind. You seek your own desires. Where is your burden of soul to seek for the wisdom from above which is first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits? What fruit do you bear? The tree is known by its fruit. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither an evil tree good fruit.” “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” [Matthew 7:18, 20.] 1LtMs, Lt 15, 1868, par. 5

Consider in humility, in fearfulness and with much trembling your present condition. Let your eye run back upon the past. Have you glorified God in your life? Many, very many times, I have regretted that we prayed for you in your babyhood, that God would turn back the death angel and spare your life. I would rather be written childless than have my children live and not devote their lives to God, but exert an influence in the wrong direction. Oh, my poor boy, you don’t try, half try, to glorify God! Yourself occupies your thought and attention. Unless you trust less in yourself, and by your life seek to honor God, you will not be happy, but will be drifting about without an anchor. If you would become converted, if you would now—while probation lasts—dig deep and lay the foundation sure, you would have a good hold on the better, immortal life; and then you will begin to know what happiness there is in this life. 1LtMs, Lt 15, 1868, par. 6

Edson, when we get your clothes and then you put on the best you have, as you do, merely to come to the Office or to walk down street, you appear foolish and vain, and remarks are made about it. It hurts us, it is against us. They think we lack good judgment in doing so much for you, but, Edson, ever remember that the outward adorning will not raise you in the estimation of any, but the inward adorning which God says is of great price is a meek and quiet spirit. Such a spirit is of value in heaven and is current among the angels of God. Strive for this. Put away show and vanity. Be a sincere Christian. Write me. 1LtMs, Lt 15, 1868, par. 7

In love. 1LtMs, Lt 15, 1868, par. 8