Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2

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Lt 6, 1869

White, J. E.

Battle Creek, Michigan

June 10, 1869

Portions of this letter are published in 5MR 393-394.

Dear Son Edson:

I have some feelings of duty to write you this morning. I am not in good health. I am unable to labor in the cause of God or to engage in the most simple labor of the household. I have told you a period I had entered in my life, untried by me, which would determine in a short period the chances of life or death with me. I have more indications of going down into the grave than of rallying. My vitality is at a low ebb. Your Aunt Sarah died passing through this critical time. My lungs are affected. Dr. Trall said I should probably fail in this time. Nature would be severely taxed, and the only question would be, were there vital forces remaining to sustain the change of nature. My lungs have remained unaffected until last winter. The fainting fit I had on the cars nearly closed my life. My lungs are painful. How I shall come out I cannot tell. I suffer much pain. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 1

I wish to write a few things to you. Brother Hull has just come in to inquire in regard to his studying to be a physician. He is conversing with your father while I am writing. I felt pained. He has proved himself worthy of encouragement to commence study. The position I believe the Lord desired you to fill, but we could not, dared not encourage you to study, for you have shown such weakness to resist temptation. We feared to put you to any test to prove you in so important a position, for you had shown you had no strength to endure the test in smaller matters. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 2

To place you in a prominent position to prove you, where a failure would be so apparent, would disgrace us and yourself also and discourage you. We dare not venture to encourage you in this enterprise. I have looked from point to point where we could feel safe to encourage you to stand in a position where we could depend upon your stability of character to resist temptations which might occur around you, but have given up in despair. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 3

Your father and I were talking coming from Monterey in regard to your case. Your father and myself viewed things the same. He felt that he could not consent to your plodding along merely as a farmer. You posing a bright intellect, capable of filling a position as a physician or business man, yet we are tied, [and] dare not encourage you to take a position where you should be exposed to temptation, least you be overcome and your weakness made apparent to all. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 4

You have chosen a headstrong course. You have not submitted when your will was crossed. Your way has been the best in your own [estimation] until you are not to be depended on. You have had ample opportunities to form a good Christian character, but have not done so. This spring you could [have] just as well entered the Institute, but we were under the necessity of acknowledging to ourselves and others. We dared not subject you to the trial. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 5

You have, my poor boy, shown yourself in your life a spendthrift. You have never redeemed this to clear your character from this sin. You don’t know how to spend means. You have no power of denial of your wishes. You will gratify your taste and your wishes in regard to spending means for dress, or pleasure, without considering the result. You have failed to reason from cause to effect. Now you might just as well have a snug sum laid by, whereas you have next to nothing. Father is utterly discouraged in regard to your ever making a success in anything because you won’t be advised, or be turned aside from your course. You will please yourself. Now, Edson, it is very hard for me to bury all my hopes in regard to your future prospects. It is very painful to give up and fully decide your life must be useless. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 6

You have had advantages and encouragements [that] but few boys have had; yet you have not made a right use of your father’s liberality. We now deeply regret we helped you to one dollar. But we wished you to keep something like a standing in society and to have an influence. I deeply regret we did not let you come just as low as you could, without aiding you. All our efforts have hurt you, and have encouraged you to hope for more, and to spend means recklessly. You have felt free to make presents out of your means, but it has been out of our means. You have been more generous than just which was unbecoming. We have met your debts on every hand in times past and canceled them to an amount of means which would astonish you could the figures be placed before you. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 7

We cared not for you to earn means fast, for it would only lead you to dissipation, to spend just as fast. We have viewed the case about hopeless of your ever seeing your mistakes in so serious a light as to correct them, and redeem the past. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 8

Father pities and mourns over you. He wants to encourage you, but fears to, thinking it will only ruin you. He told you when you could get five hundred dollars he would add five. When you can earn a thousand, he would give you a thousand in land. Father, coming from Monterey, said, “He never will earn it. He can't keep means. Only to think of him having to work on a farm when he is smart and can fill any position in life if it were not for his foolish weakness.” Father weeps over your case. But we are both at [a] loss to know what to say or do in your case. We view it just alike. You are at present not fitted to have a family, for in judgment you are a child,in self-control a child. You have no strength to resist temptation, although by yielding you would disgrace us and yourself and dishonor God. You would not bear the yoke in your youth. You love ease and to be free from care. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 9

Here is a self-made man, Brother Hull, pushing his own way through the world. He is respected. Here is a pamphlet sent by your Uncle John with a notice of the attainments and honors of his son. I do not crave this for you, but my dear boy, I do crave for your solidity of character, a good, firm Christian character. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 10

You know how Martha Amadon is disliked. Why? She has not self-control. You have this to attain, humility of deportment, and self-control. You could have been different if you only would. You have been favorably situated to develop a good character but your unbounded self-confidence and love of having your own way has shut you out from good and from improvements you might make. Your life has hitherto been a mistake. I fear for you, even where you are, that you will fail to develop a good, substantial Christian character and disappoint your friends as you have us, and they will lose confidence in you. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 11

You are hopeful and ardent and rush on, get off your guard and I fear will not stand your proving in the position you now occupy. Important interests are now at stake. Let this be your motto,—Deny self, bear the cross, discipline yourself, educate yourself to have firm principles. Religion is only adopted by you. It is not made the rule of your life. You shun the effort required to be a Christian; the discipline is irksome, distasteful to you. Constant watchfulness and close application is required to be a true Christian. You love to be free from care. I fear you will not discipline your mind to take care, where you are, but will be off and on, hit or miss, just as it is most pleasing to you. Duty first, then pleasure, has never been your motto. With you, it has been pleasure first, then let the duties be neglected or come last. You have dilly-dallied away most of your time. I lay open these plain things before you because I have no hope of your doing better till you see yourself and make superhuman efforts to reform. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Luke 13:24. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 12

Father says you will never be what you should be, for you have gone on so long this wrong way. I fear he is correct. I fear unhappiness and disappointment in reserve for you. Yet I still have a little hope which only rests on your making at once an entire change in your life,—a most decided, mighty change which shall revolutionize your whole existence, wake you up to your duties or manhood and lead you to put away childish things, and transform you. This I have no hope of your effecting in your own strength. God alone can help you and strengthen you in this great work. I cannot express to you how earnestly and ardently I have longed for this to take place. Yet I have been disappointed up to this time. What encouragement have we to hope? What influence are you exerting for good in the family where you live? Are you seeking to lead the younger members of the family to Christ? Are you teaching them self-denial by your example? Are you taking care to ever speak and act as a Christian should? 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 13

What will be the end of these things? Will you receive the gift of God brought by Jesus Christ of everlasting life and hear from the lips of Him who died for you, “Well done, good and faithful servant; ... enter into the joy of thy Lord?” Matthew 25:23. What joy is here spoken of? That joy of seeing souls redeemed in the kingdom of glory. That joy being yours of seeing souls saved through your instrumentality. Will this joy be yours? Will you live an aimless life of self-gratification longer, and in the end reap death and see souls lost through your example and influence who might have been saved? 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 14

Dear and much loved son, my heart bleeds for you. I cannot give you up; yet so much of your probationary time has passed into eternity, never to be recalled. How few noble deeds [of] self-denial and good works are set to your account! So many misspent hours, so much time worse than lost, written in the book of deeds by the recording angel, which you must meet again. Have you considered how much good you might have done had your life and talents been devoted to God? How many souls turned from a life of sin to a life of holiness through your efforts, and unconscious influence? May the Lord wash out your sins in the past is my earnest prayer. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 15

You have had light which lays you under the greatest responsibility. God has spoken to you from heaven through your mother, yet you have not heeded and obeyed. You are left without one excuse; no plea can you make for remissness and lack of religious experience. It has been warnings and instruction and entreaties on the right hand and on the left, and these sacred appeals have lost their sacredness. They have become common things to you until your heart has become hardened. Your neck stiffened against counsel and advice and you have become subject to Satan’s devices, led captive by him at his will. God pity you, my son, and my prayer is that He will give you another chance. I have no smooth words to speak to you. I believe it is life or death with you. The prospect of your salvation to me is nearly hopeless. A decided, thorough change, a facing right about, may now prove effectual. No faint efforts, but a mighty, fearful struggle. You have to break the bands of wrong and long-formed habits and learn anew. You should be distrustful of ever following your own will, your own desire. Practice self-denial. You are watched. Your character is bearing a close test. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 16

I questioned Brother McDearmon in regard to the diet. Said he thought they would have to keep butter from the table because you eat freely of it, when he knew we would not sanction it because of [your] state of health. He knew it hurt you, but you seemed to have no power to resist temptation when placed before you. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 17

Others note your weakness. They read these things. Little things develop a person’s character and principles. They know the instructions we have given you and they watch to see how near our instructions are followed and how sacredly regarded. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 18

I beg of you to take heed to your ways. Watch and pray. Don’t engage in vain, light, flippant talk. Be sober; watch unto prayer. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 19

In love, 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 20

Mother.

P.S. You seem desirous to please us, but the fear of God was not seen to be before you. You do show in all your acts a lack of principle, of high resolve and noble purpose. You are seeking, but not agonizing. You have a lack of moral power which is alarming. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 21

These letters I write in the fear of God. You will have to meet them in the judgment. You have taken so little notice of my letters. I have felt at times they were despised, but I dare not cease to set before you your danger. The blood of your soul shall not be found on my garments. I sent a long letter by Brother McDearmon. Did you receive it. By your making no reference to it in any way, I fear you have not got it. While I live I shall seek in love to do my duty to you. I have not encouraged much in this letter, for I feel no way led out to do so. My heart aches for you all the time. I have no rest in spirit. My cry is unto God for you. Write me. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 22

Your mother. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 23

You do not take the least notice of the letters I write you. Are they unworthy of an answer? Do you think I write merely for the sake of writing? Please answer my letters. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 24

Your Mother. 2LtMs, Lt 6, 1869, par. 25