Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 2a, 1872

White, J. E.

Battle Creek, Michigan

January 14, 1872

Previously unpublished.

My dear son Edson:

In the last view given me in Vermont, December 10, I was shown that God had in mercy spared your life, not to serve yourself, not to devote your life to serving the world and thus serving Satan, but that you should devote your life to His service. Had you fulfilled the purpose of God concerning you, you would now be qualified to teach the truth to others. But Satan has been constantly at work to separate you from your parents, that the purposes of God should not be carried out. You have been willing to draw off from your parents, to be suspicious of your father, jealous that he was not working for your best good. When he has given you advice, to restrain your plans and notions which you had laid out, you have become the more set to carry them out. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 1

You would not heed counsel or advice, and as the result have met many failures. But instead of these failures leading you to feel cautious of your own judgment and thankful for the advice of your father, you are as sanguine as ever that your way is best. Here you are deceived. You are not learning by experience the lessons you should learn, and that you must learn, in order that your life should not prove a failure. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 2

You have done great injustice to your father in robbing him of the help that was his due until you were twenty-one. You were obligated by the laws of God and the land to serve your father faithfully this period of years, but you have seriously neglected your duty in this respect, while at the same time you have claimed of your father the obligations to you as a son. Mutual obligations you have not felt. God has chosen your father to bear great responsibilities. You, who should have helped stay up his hands and encouraged him in his arduous labor, had no sense of the sacredness of the work of God in which we were engaged, but you have increased our burdens in a very great degree, brought upon us great perplexity and anxiety, and have weighed down our souls with fearful forebodings on your account. You could have saved us this if you had been teachable and submissive as a son should ever be to his parents. Your mistakes and wrongs you have not felt and realized, and you have not reformed. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 3

You chose your own way, and the Lord let you go on in your own strength and judgment. His prospering hand could not sustain you. His frown has been upon you. You have not had the fear of God before you. You have buried yourself up in the world, calculated and planned for yourself, gathered men about you, and brought care and hard labor upon yourself and realized no profits. You have been anxious to do a large work, to branch out, and it has been to your injury. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 4

Edson should have been a submissive boy and remained with his father, to be benefited by his experience and judgment. This he was unwilling to do. Nevertheless, this was his duty, although he should have some trials and discouragements—a duty which has been neglected, an experience lost, which at your age can never be regained. You were unwilling to be molded by those who had the deepest interest in you. You submitted to have those mold you that would deform instead of reforming you. You have not confided in your parents, but rather in those who did not know you, and could not help you. You virtually withdrew your affection and your interest from your parents, feeling no responsibility resting upon you to lighten their burdens or to make their interest yours. You have had no further interest in their prosperity or in easing their burdens than that you would be advantaged, and you have not shown that you had the least responsibility or burden resting upon you to fulfill the duties binding upon a son. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 5

A thorough conversion to God will be the only means to arouse you and open your eyes to discern the deficiencies in your life. Whenever you have been connected with your father you have not felt it your duty to see and feel how you could be the most help, but you have selfishly regarded your interest, how you could manage to advantage yourself. Your life has not been a success or a happy life. How could it be? You have had false views of life, false views of duty. You have been ardent and zealous to serve yourself. A few times in your life, for a short period, you have manifested an interest to help your parents, but all such interest was short-lived. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 6

The picture of your life as presented before me was a sad mistake, a failure. You have not been making a success in this life or in securing the better life. You have lived for yourself, shut yourself up to serve yourselves and the world. Your parents had claims upon you which you did not respond to. Your Creator had claims upon you to which you were just as indifferent. You chose to follow your will and your way, and what have you gained by it? You have not advanced one step. You have now to gain that experience you disdained years ago. Never can you form a correct and symmetrical character unless you take up your long-neglected duty and see and feel your great mistake. In your life, danger has succeeded danger and you have been repeatedly overcome, yet you have not discerned your danger or the losses you have repeatedly sustained. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 7

I was shown that you have labored when you felt like it, regardless of prudence or reason. When you felt like doing your pleasure, you have followed your feelings like a boy rather than a matured man. Your life has been spasmodic because you have not felt that a noble, useful life could be attained only by resistance and conquest—resistance of your inclination and victory over temptation. You could have attained a noble character, marked with firmness and stern integrity, and been now a blessing to the cause of God, a stay to your father in the decline of life, and had your name registered among the angels in glory, for your virtuous character, your faithfulness, and noble perseverance in battling for the right. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 8

Oh, what might you not have attained if the power of godliness and religious faith had characterized your life! You have had light upon the health reform, but you did not conscientiously regard it. Passion and appetite clamored for indulgence, and you indulged yourself to the injury of your physical and moral strength. Here you sinned against light and dishonored God, who gave you these propensities for high and holy purposes. Reason and conscience have been overborne. The moral, the nobler, higher powers of your being have been debased in many ways, but you have done this more effectually in burying your talent in the earth, thinking only of your own temporal interest—regardless of religion, regardless of God, and indifferent to the influence due from you to your fellow beings. You have served the creature rather than your Creator. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 9

The very strong points of your character were not objectionable in their place. Had you by high moral power held them in control, in obedience to conscience, the very power you were required to call forth to keep these propensities in subjection through exercise of the moral powers would elevate and develop a strength which would make your life highly useful. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 10

The senses must be servant to the moral powers. Your temper is quick, your independence strong. You feel quick and deep, and instead of letting reason’s voice be heard, you will follow your feelings, when you should curb your hasty, hurried spirit and say to your passions, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” [Job 38:11.] Then will God be your helper; your Creator who formed you will remember that you are but dust and He will weaken these propensities which have been too long strengthened by exercise. Remember the laws which God has planted in your being are crying, “Restrain; deny the world, its pleasures and vanities,” while the world and those who are in friendship with it and with the god of this world, Satan, cry, “Do not restrict yourself; enjoy pleasure while you may.” “Constant self-denial is no virtue,” say those who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Thus temptation is on your track and lovers of self and of vicious indulgences are on every hand, strengthening the ardent pleasure-loving desires within. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 11

While pleasures seem so alluring, and it seems such a grand thing to have your own way, to be your own master, Satan contrives to hide the miseries which are sure to follow. High hopes and dazzling prospects and appearances charm and allure from the path of duty and from religion, turning a deaf ear to warnings, remonstrances, and parents’ prayers and a mother’s inward grief, to follow inclination. Conscience says, Beware; the frown of God hangs over you. You are not starting in right. You have left your anchor, and your guiding chart. Religion and the Bible are left behind and you are carried about hither and thither by impulse until you are shipwrecked. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 12

Oh, how cruel to live for the animal of our nature alone and sink the moral, the spiritual. The moral needs to be strengthened daily by exercise and cultivation, while the animal appetites and passions are curbed by the strong will, enlightened and fortified by the Spirit of God. Your hasty temper or any one passion uncontrolled affects all your senses, perverts the judgment, and affects all the moral powers just as one little wheel out of order in the watch effectually stops all the machinery, destroying the correctness of the watch. One passion unrestrained affects the entire man. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 13

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” was the question of the psalmist. The answer is, “By taking heed thereto, according to thy word.” [Psalm 119:9.] The sanctifying influence of the Spirit of God upon the heart will do this work. Without the help of God his own efforts and his own plans, with his own wisdom, will prove foolishness. The strong power of principle will be necessary to restrain passion and will. In the place of independence and defiance, humility will be ever becoming, ever attractive, never repulsive or unlovely. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 14

Edson, God designed that your character should be elevated, your real enjoyment derived from the right source and increasing as you walk the path of duty, your life useful, your name written in the Lamb’s book of life. You have been seeking worldly prosperity, and have virtually said to the invitations of the Word of God and of the messages of truth, “Go thy way for this time; and when I have convenient season, I will call for thee.” Acts 24:25. But the rod of God hangs over the son of disobedience. You have been faithful to serve yourself, but when you come to your parents where there is work to be done and duties which should be seen and performed by you, you feel no responsibility. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 15

God marks this selfish unfaithfulness. All these things are registered in heaven. You have a work now to perform which no other can do for you. You have a death to experience which will be the only means of giving you an experience in the new life. You must die to self. You must realize the sinfulness of your long-neglected duty to your parents. You have frequently made confession of your wrongs, but when temptation has come upon you, you had no power to resist. Feelings kindle in your heart in a moment against your father. You will be proved here and tested by God, and your only hope is in the strength of God. He can give you strength to conquer and power to endure. You have not watched. You have not prayed in secret. You have backslidden from God. God has given you warning after warning through your mother, but you have not received them and improved. You are laid under great responsibility. All these warnings will increase your guilt in the day of final retribution. There is not the least hope for you as you are. Only a thorough transformation of character will meet the mind of God, the discerner of the thoughts and intents and purposes of the heart. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 16

Now, my son, a few words more and my lengthy letter closes. Your only hope is in a thorough conversion, a death to self, which you have never yet experienced. I was shown that God had given you abilities which, if exercised in the right direction, would be a blessing to others. If you had not chosen your own way, but followed the leadings of God’s Spirit, you would have now been connected with His work and might have been laboring in word and doctrine as a minister of righteousness. “To whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are.” Romans 6:16. You have not yielded yourself as a servant to Jesus Christ to inquire and know and do His will, but you have been a servant of the adversary of souls. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 17

If ye gather not with Me, says Christ, ye scatter abroad. [Matthew 12:30.] This you have been doing. Your example and influence have scattered from Christ and you have reproached the cause of Christ and greatly weakened our hands and discouraged our hearts through your wayward course. Your only hope is to face right about and be teachable, control yourself. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 18

When your father is pressed with care and burdens, you seem to have no sense of this. Your desires and wishes will not be waived. Your will rises like a lion and you press and urge your case upon his attention with such persistence that you are a terrible burden. If he decides and you grasp the decision, and then other circumstances not before considered come in and a different course is thought best, you become impatient, restless, proud, independent, unsubmissive, and unyielding, and are a great burden. This spirit should not find a place in that office. God sees and regards the interest and devotion of your father to the upbuilding of the cause and work. Had you taken a course which a dutiful son should have taken your father’s affections would not have been drawn from you. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 19

The consequence has succeeded the cause. You gave that cause for alienation of feelings through your terrible unfaithfulness during the years of your life. You are ardent in your temperament and had you been faithful and devoted, as you ought to have been to the interests of your father, you would have loved your duty and found a pleasure therein. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 20

“Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore ... put away evil from thy fleshEcclesiastes 11:9, 10. When conscience that has been long stifled shall arouse it cannot be silenced or overborne. I consider this opportunity a turning point in your destiny. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 21

My fears are that you will fail to discern your defects and the mistakes of your life, fail to repent with all your heart [so] that your misspent life may not arise before you in the judgment to fasten guilt upon you when it is too late for wrongs to be righted. You, my son, must fall upon the Rock and be broken or the Rock will fall upon you and prove your hopeless ruin, for it will grind you to powder. He that seeketh to save his life shall lose it; but he that loseth his life for Christ’s sake shall preserve it unto life eternal. See John 12:25; Luke 17:33. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 22

Upon faithful obedience to your parents and to your heavenly Father depends your success in this life and your success in the better life. God has honored your parents; you have dishonored them. Redeem the time while you may. Break your proud heart and bring your will into subjection to the will of God. To glorify God and attain His image and bless your fellow beings should be the highest aim and ambition of your life. It is not too late for you now to rise to moral excellence of character. Seize the opportunity earnestly. Allow, even now, your character to be molded, to be disciplined. Aim for a life of usefulness. You are in danger, as was William Gage, of sacrificing duty to pleasure. Inclination leads you, and you need strictly to guard yourself in this direction or you will be a boy among boys and have no strength or elevation of character. God help you, my son. 2LtMs, Lt 2a, 1872, par. 23