Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 47a, 1874

White, J. E.; White, Emma

Battle Creek, Michigan

August 21, 1874

Portions of this letter are published in OHC 266; 7MR 347.

Dear Children, Edson and Emma:

About two weeks ago I sent you a long letter, and I hope it has reached you. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 1

I was very sorry, Edson, to hear that you had gatherings in your head. It is evident that the humor that has made its appearance on the surface in your face has from some cause gone to your head. I hope you have not presumptuously been tampering with your face, rather than to take up your cross and deny your appetite. These gatherings in the head may end in deafness. I feel very anxious that you should change entirely your course of living. Not a morsel of meat or butter passes my lips, and I mean that it never shall again. I occasionally ate a little butter in California. I have had to pay for it here in nature’s making an effort to rid my system of impurities. I have had severe difficulties of the throat, lungs, and bowels. I was fearful of losing my voice but I am now better, after suffering much. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 2

I have watched the cases of those who have been reckless in their diet and have felt at liberty to eat meat, butter, and other unhygienic food. They affirm it does not hurt them and that they could not live upon a strictly hygienic diet. But I see this class are ever ailing. They have fevers and attacks of sickness and lose much time. If this were the best diet for them, why are they always complaining? 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 3

We should study to know the laws of health and then should obey these laws implicitly. Prevention is worth more than pounds of cure. I have seen the evils of pampering the delicate appetite in hundreds of cases, and I have had hundreds of testimonies in regard to the result of this course. It has been evil in every instance. The laws of physical life are perfect, and if obeyed a great amount of suffering and disease may be avoided. The apostle urges upon Christians to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Every indulgence of unnatural, animal appetite creates a state of physical weakness and weakens moral power. I am pained when I have a realizing sense of the great light that has been shining upon you for years upon health reform, and yet see you walk directly contrary to the light. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 4

I have not a doubt but that Emma would be in better health today if, from a sense of duty, she restricted her appetite to only those articles of food which are most simple and the most healthful. The sin of indulgence of appetite is greater in your case than with many because you have had great light. You may both venture to indulge your taste and enjoy your butter and fleshmeats, but remember you are sinning against God. You will feel the result of indulgence physically, mentally, and morally. Your consciences may not be aroused until sickness and debility shall be felt, and then you may assign to other causes than the true one the reason for your sufferings. But God knows that your own wrong course in self-gratification has brought the sure result. The violation of the laws of health is a violation of the laws of God. The throwing off of moral obligation must be met by-and-by when God shall bring every work into judgment. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 5

For your own personal enjoyment in this world I entreat of you both to be health reformers. Emma, educate your appetite. Banish butter, cheese, flesh meats, and every article that is not the most simple and the best calculated to make a healthy quality of blood. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 6

Edson and Emma, do you ever expect to overcome as Christ overcame? Or do you expect to climb up to heaven in some other way, rather than to humiliate yourselves and practice self-denial and self-sacrifice? Jesus pleased not Himself. He came to do good to others. Are you imitating your divine Lord? Emma lacks moral courage, for she has never cultivated it. Enjoyment and lack of responsibility have made her weak as a baby in moral power, and in every way inefficient for the taking up of life's burdens and duties and resolutely bearing her part in the battles of life. If Emma will consecrate herself to God, and deny self, she yet may have some probationary time in which to perfect Christian character and have an heirship to heaven. But I must tell you both, without a decided and thorough reform in almost everything, you will both make a sad failure in fitting for heaven, just as sure and much more terrible than the failure you have both made in this life. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 7

These things are not to be passed lightly over. Emma can and should help Edson, and Edson can and should help Emma. The path of duty is the only safe path for you to travel. God has given us natural appetites. If these are rightly satisfied, health, life, and happiness may be preserved. But if these appetites are abused, or if we create unnatural appetites and then gratify these to the injury of physical and mental vigor, we abuse nature and bring painful responsibilities upon ourselves. Your bodies belong to God. See that you take good care of them; those who can see and will not are guilty of a great sin. If we close our eyes to light, fearing that we shall have to deny, restrain, and abstain from indulgences which we love, we become criminal before God. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 8

I also have a duty to warn you in regard to the health of your consciences: the least departure from the strictest integrity under any circumstances, because it is convenient, will harden the conscience and prepare the way for the violation of moral obligations in other ways. If we treat the health of the body, which is our highest earthly interest, without due consideration, we prepare the way for temptation and the violation of higher claims. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 9

My dear children, I feel the deepest interest for you both. May the Lord be your Helper. I point you to an unfailing source of strength in Jesus. Oh, do seek to overcome the defects in your characters before it shall be too late, and you lose heaven. You have no time to lose—not a moment to devote to selfish gratifications. Turn square about. No longer live to please self, but to honor God. I plead with you not to follow the sight of your eyes, or the inclination of your feelings, but seek to follow your Redeemer. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 10

I have been so pained at the thought that you will follow your own plans and carry them out on other people’s money, if you can do so in no other way. I wish I could call up every person you have borrowed small sums of money from in Battle Creek, and have not paid them. Can your sense of justice be completely blunted? Have you had no special honor for your name, Edson and Emma? Do you think I could taste of meat or butter or anything but the lowliest, plainest food while compelled to borrow money to sustain life? You both have much to learn. You have learned to love and please and enjoy yourselves. Now educate yourselves in an opposite direction. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 11

You have not loved economy, either of you. You would spend dollars readily on some gratification which you might do without, when these dollars may be borrowed from others’ purses. I want you to pledge yourselves to go without food or clothing rather than to incur a debt. Oh, how ashamed I am to be dunned for your debts, Edson, by no less than a dozen persons! Emma is not clear in this matter. She does not stand for the right. Emma is at fault. She might help Edson where he is weak. But she does no such thing. Self-gratification is of such satisfaction that you will let dimes and dollars slip out of your hands for your supposed wants, and then find that you have indulged fancy at others’ expense. I would have honor and self-respect enough to restrain my desire for things I could possibly do without rather than inconvenience others, or use that which is not my own. Emma, before you spend one cent, think: Cannot I possibly contrive some way to do without this? Cannot I be put to inconvenience rather than to annoy others with borrowing? Work upon this principle: Never to borrow a cent, but to live within your means. Until you can do this, you will never make a success of life. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 12

Perhaps Emma is not aware of the debts Edson has to settle. You have both had as fair a chance to start in life as most people, and a much better chance than many. Your failures are only the result of your own wrong course of action. You have not been willing to be led. I am so fearful that you will make mistakes in California, as you have in Battle Creek. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 13

Oh, don’t disgrace us in California as you have in Michigan! Honor us, children, in California, by your strictly economical, close calculation, and by the strictest integrity. Remember we knew you better in Michigan than does anyone in California. Those who are unacquainted with your mistakes and failures will think you may do this and that, bear this and that responsibility in taking burdens, which you will not be able to carry out. Be guarded. Live for God’s glory. Make a success in life this time. The way is open before you. If you cannot be self-reliant now, and be a man, you never can. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 14

Do not feel that the sum of your life’s happiness is to amuse yourselves, to read storybooks, and neglect homely duties that you can and should do. I have been shown that Emma is being unfitted for life’s duties through much reading. We have no excuse for inactivity or inability. We shall die sooner of doing nothing and being petted and pampered than of overwork. We may help in many ways if our eyes are open to see, if we wish to help. We may find enough to do in this world of ours and thus doing will lead away from selfishness and unhappiness. Real happiness is not found by seeking to bend everything to please ourselves. You will never taste the happiness of self-denial unless you begin to live for others’ good. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 15

Now don’t forget what I write, Edson and Emma, and think you know better than your mother. I know what I am speaking of. Unless you both make an entire change—not a half change but a whole reformation—you will both fail of heaven. I want you to feel and see and understand that no one or two can live for themselves and be Christians. I wish I could say something that will have a transforming influence upon your lives and characters. Not that we expect ever to be benefitted by leaning on you as we had once hoped we might, and as parents frequently lean on their children; but I speak because you are making an entire failure of securing happiness in this life or a home in the better life. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 16

I want Emma to wake up and see and think, what has her life amounted to? And what is her future life to amount to? Only leaves? No fruit; nothing but leaves? She might cultivate her mind, for she has not been burdened with home cares and perplexities. She might do many good works and become efficient in many directions if she would. But when her sun shall set in this world, unless she changes her course entirely, she will have no good works to follow her, and her memory will soon perish. I cannot have it so! God help her to get out of self! As long as I live, it should be to some purpose. I love you sincerely, and this is why I write so plainly. If I thought you would not and could not do better than you have done, I am the last one who would write you as I now do. But it is to arouse you that you may wake up and live to a purpose, while you do live, that I write at this time. Make your mark high and never flag till you attain the victory. Dedicate yourselves to God, I beseech of you, at once. Do all the good that you can. Be self-forgetful while you strive to make your lives a blessing to others. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 17

Your father is attending the funeral of Adeline Spencer. She has been long sick and a great sufferer. Last Tuesday he attended the funeral of Father Norton at the house of Brother Loughborough. The corpse was taken East for burial. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 18

Father has been quite well for him and has done much labor since he came here. Harmon Lindsay is sick with fever. He was dangerously ill. The reason: He has not regarded health reform as he should. We had a very precious season of prayer for him last night. The blessing of God came down upon us and upon him. He confessed his faults with tears and sought the Lord earnestly. We hope he will make thorough work, and that the Great Physician may fully restore him to health. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 19

We have just learned that Willie Prentiss of New York is dead. He was a young man of great promise, idolized by his parents, for he was their only son. His parents have backslidden from health reform and Willie had given up the Sabbath. Typhoid fever has done its work, and just as he was entering his manhood he is numbered with the dead. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 20

It pays to live for God, to serve God from principle. The Lord saw what was best for His people after they left Egypt and He gave them a restricted diet, promising them that their bread and water should be sure, and that He would remove all sickness from them if they would be obedient. But they rebelled. They would not restrict their diet, and murmured against God because they had not meat. They loathed the bread sent them from heaven and chose to take their cases in their own hands, as though they knew better than God what was best for them. The Lord let them have their desires; but the result, instead of health and happiness, was dissension, sickness, and death. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 21

The Lord has given great light upon health reform because He knew what was best for His people, but if they choose to turn from the light, to choose ways of their own, and take their cases in their own hands, they can do so and realize the result in suffering, sickness, and premature death. God will not be trifled with. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 22

I believe Emma White may have health if she does as she ought to do—if she is obedient to the light God has given and serves the Lord instead of serving herself. I believe Edson may enjoy good health if he lives in accordance with the light God has given upon health reform. Take it up, not despising it, but from principle, and do right because you love the right better than self-indulgence. This will cost you an effort as it did me and as it has many others, but it will pay in the end. You cannot do this without calling to your aid willpower, and having decision and firmness to educate your appetite and educate yourselves to economical habits and strict self-discipline. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 23

I feel in earnest in this matter, and I entreat of you, my dear children, to take hold of life as you have never done before. Live for God’s glory. Live within your means. Care more for the approval of God than for outward appearance or the approval of anyone in this world. Remember Jesus; remember Calvary; and then work to the point to imitate the True Pattern. You may carry Jesus with you in all your business transactions. But don’t, I bet of you, become indolent and unfaithful in the least, for if you do you will be unfaithful in much. Make the most of the abilities God has given you. Purify your souls by obeying the truth. Make a business of serving God. Do not foster feelings to pet and favor yourselves. Stand up with moral backbone to do, to endure, to be right and true and noble so that angels will be encouraged to your presence. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 24

I write because I cannot help it. Let the past suffice the lax, loose efforts to perfect Christian character, but for the present be perfect, be holy, be pure, and God will bless you. You may have a daily experience in the things of God. Be true to principle. I send love to the dear children. We hope to see them soon. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 25

Your Mother. 2LtMs, Lt 47a, 1874, par. 26