Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Ms 2, 1871

Youth in Battle Creek



Portions of this manuscript are published in OHC 222; 2MCP 604; TSB 25.

I was shown last December the dangers of the youth. I saw that Brother Kilgore’s children needed much done for them before they could be accepted of God. They were not making advancement in the divine life. They are in danger of overlooking present duty, neglecting the education essential for practical life, and expecting that book knowledge was the all-important matter to be attended to to make life a success. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 1

They have duties at home which they overlook. They do not feel the importance of being faithful in the littles, feeling the obligation due their parents and being true and thorough and faithful in the humble, homely duties of life which lie directly in their pathway. These young men are in danger of soaring above the common, essential branches of education so very necessary to make home happy and cheerful. They have the lesson to learn of bringing sunshine instead of casting a shadow. Brother Kilgore’s sons have but little true sense of their dangers and of the duties relating to practical life. They have not learned to bear burdens and take responsibilities. They think that almost everything can be attained if they have education. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 2

The education of these children should not be neglected, but an education is dearly gained if it is at the expense of the soul. If in gaining an education they cease to learn in the school of Christ, they will not become intelligent Christians and they will finally realize that they have made a terrible mistake. These young men have characters to form for heaven. If they give themselves up to obtain a knowledge of books, become absorbed in their school studies, and neglect prayer and religious duties, they are meeting with a great loss. In attending school they are exposed to a variety of temptations that they escape at home in their father’s family under the watchful care of God-fearing, judicious parents. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 3

Children, in attending school, too frequently make their studies the principal matter of interest, their religious duties secondary. If, while at home, they prayed twice a day in faith to their heavenly Father for grace to keep them from temptation and the contaminating influence which prevails among the youth of this degenerate age, when they place themselves where they are exposed to ten temptations to one at their homes, they need to pray as much more earnestly and constantly, as their surroundings are more unfavorable to the formation of Christian character. These young men have not strength of character to resist temptation. They are not settled, rooted, and grounded in the truth, but are in danger of losing their interest in heavenly things and preparation necessary to meet the approval of God. God is weighing moral worth. Angels are closely watching the development of character and bearing the record to heaven. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 4

The lack of Christian principle with youth keeps them weak and wavering. They are unstable. They have brilliant ideas of success in life. Their imagination presents a flattering prospect before them, and these brilliant anticipations exalt them above the simple duties at home and in the church which would give them a practical experience; and after they have followed their own varying course, chasing after happiness, experience, stern experience, has taught them that they have made a sad mistake. They are then in danger of losing confidence in themselves, and have lost the time that they should have improved in gaining a valuable experience in the Christian life, following on to know the Lord, gaining a rich experience, blessing others by a life of spotless purity, of high, noble, stern integrity, and of thoroughness in the performance of duty. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 5

These young men, I saw, were in danger of losing their souls. They have duties to do at home. They have responsibilities to bear which they have neglected to lift. That which they sow they shall also reap. These young men are now sowing the seed. Every act of their life, every word spoken, is a seed for good or evil. As is the seed, so will be the crop. If they indulge lustful passions and give up to perversity of temper, to the gratification of appetite, or the inclinations of an unsanctified heart, if they foster wrong principles and cherish habits of unfaithfulness, of dissipation, of neglect of duty, they will reap a plentiful crop of remorse, shame, and despair. The angel records every word, every act, every thought, and they will have to stand the test of the judgment. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 6

These young men need to stop and reflect. Beverly Hare, what has been your course with your associates? Have you let your light so shine before those with whom you associate that they are impressed by your deportment and your sobriety, that you really are a follower of Christ? If this is the case, your conscious and unconscious influence is gathering with Christ. Can you do any work more exalted and ennobling than this? It is Christ in you, a well of water springing up unto everlasting life, refreshing those around, and its influence is widening and deepening even in the immortal life. This has not been the case with you, my Brother Beverly. You have been drawn away by the irreligious, to unite with them, to follow their example, to do as they do, and you have pursued a course which has dishonored your Redeemer and grieved the Spirit of God. Can you expect that you will feel anything but darkness and discouragement and coldness and indifference? 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 7

Your course has been contrary to the instruction given you by your dear parents who love you, contrary to the light of truth. You knew that you were going in forbidden paths. God is displeased with you, and yet His mercy invites you still to make peace with Him by thorough repentance and humiliation before Him. Your school, I saw, would only prove to you a curse, for you had not stability and firmness of purpose to resist temptation. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 8

You have a perverse, unhappy disposition. You do not consider that the happiness and the misery of life are made up of little acts, little words, little deeds of thoughtful attention. These you neglect. If you do not reform you will carry these deficiencies into your life and not only be wretched, morose and gloomy yourself, but a body of darkness to others. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 9

I beg of you, yes, I warn you in the name of my Master, do not enter the marriage relation and take upon yourself the responsibilities and obligation of the marriage vows until you are changed in heart and life. When you can make your own home happy, be a blessing to your father and mother, your brothers and sister, then can you understand the duties involved in the marriage relation. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 10

You should begin your work just where you have failed to perform it. You have no special interest to contribute to the happiness of your father’s family. You are boastful, proud, disobedient, unthankful, and unholy. This, you may say, is a sad, severe picture. But I assure you in the fear of God, it is not exaggerated a particle. You are affected when you get in a meeting where the Spirit of God prevails; but you do not give the more earnest heed to the things you hear lest at any time you should let them slip, and the impression wears away in a short time, and you are left every time harder and darker and more unhappy than before. You are not happy. You are dissatisfied with yourself and are inclined to find fault with those around you or with your surroundings as the cause of your unhappiness. But the secret of the whole matter lies in yourself. Your heart has been touched by the Spirit of God, and you have at times tried very hard to do right, but you soon fall back into the same state. You do not brace against temptation, and you are unhappy because you bear a violated conscience. Your school will do you no good but only harm, harm that cannot be estimated. You make your unhappiness. You do not cultivate a cheerful, happy, temper. You indulge in finding fault, in fretting, and you manufacture trials. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 11

You have a work to do to redeem the time, and put away your defects of character. God has given you many privileges. Had you improved them you would have made advancement in the divine life. You should cultivate a love for faithfulness in the littles. Perform the little duties well and you will receive commendation of your heavenly Father. You have no time to lose. You need to be transformed. You need to be alarmed. Arouse yourself and take hold of the work as you never yet have done. Make thorough work. Rest not until you have made a radical change in your life. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 12

The sons of Brother Kilgore need a great work done for them. They were very ambitious for an education, which is right if conducted on right principles. But when studies are taken hold of from inclination, without study and prayerful consideration of what are our duties to our parents, then the door is open for temptation. God has given you life and duties in your sphere to perform which you should in no case neglect. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 13

I saw that coldness, indifference, and carelessness will prove the ruin of these dear boys. If they do not see the importance of firmly adopting and rigidly practicing right principles at home they will surely not do this at school. They need to bear responsibilities and home burdens. They need carefully to shun selfishness and the desire to follow inclination rather than duty. You, my dear young friends, should seek the Lord and should begin to be faithful and to show faithfulness and unselfish interest at home. “Honor thy father and thy mother” is the first commandment with promise. [Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:2.] The careless, reckless inattention of children in the performance of their duties at home is an abomination in the sight of the Lord. Education gained at the expense of filial duties, to the neglect of the soul’s interest, is at infinite loss. You cannot afford, young men, to barter away heaven so cheaply. It would be imitating Esau, who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 14

Brother Kilgore’s sons have good qualities of mind; if rightly directed they may do good and be a blessing to all within the sphere of their influence. The danger of attending school where there is not a steady influence to cultivate the moral powers is very great. The youth of aspiring minds become enthusiastic, ardent, and all absorbed in their studies. They are ambitious to compete with their schoolmates, and a spirit of emulation is encouraged in them to exert themselves to the utmost to win the applause of their teachers. The soul’s interest is made secondary. Moral and religious culture is excluded from the schools. Teachers themselves are generally of that class given to pride and indulging the follies of this age and they lead their pupils in this direction. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 15


Beverly Hare, my dear brother, God has given you power and opportunity to improve the privileges within your reach and be happy, or abuse these privileges and be wretched. Which will you do? Your course of conduct will determine your choice. You may pursue a course of integrity and self-culture to make others happy, or you may follow the course of your own choosing and your life be like the passage of a ship upon mid-ocean—after it has passed, no trace left behind. It is for your interest to pursue a course of cheerful labor and be a son of persevering industry. There are bewitching influences in the school life, a freedom from restraint, and a love of idleness and sloth. The failures of self-conquest in your past life have left a discouraging influence upon your mind. But these failures were not a necessity; they were the result of your not seeking the aid of the Spirit of God. The strength God will impart will prove sufficient for your utmost needs. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 16

My brother, if there is a big job on hand that you know must be done, you will resolutely take hold of it and accomplish the task. But religious discipline will teach you that industry is a duty essential for the Christian in temporal and religious life. If you draw strength from God, following duty rather than inclination, a precious light will penetrate the chambers of your soul which are now darkened, shedding a cheerful light upon your daily toils, that you can—and you should—feel that you are as much engaged in serving God in doing the duties at home with interest as though you were praying and talking in meeting. When you can take hold with cheerful interest, laboring with a spirit of contentment, putting your heart into the work with submission and hope, you will experience a joy and happiness in life to which you are now a stranger. You will feel courage to war the Christian warfare. You will have hope that through Christ you may come off conqueror. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 17

You feel, my dear brother, that you have not the sympathy of friends or even of your parents. What has led you to feel thus alone? Your own course. You have given yourself up to the influence of self which has had a depressing influence upon your physical strength. You have never felt the natural obligation devolving upon a son. You have not felt it a solemn duty you owe your parents, your younger brothers and your sister, to show an interest in their happiness. You have not been wide awake to lift the burdens from your father and mother, to cherish, for their sakes if not for your own, a cheerful, sunny temper that shall be as sunlight in a cloudy day. You have overlooked the little courtesies of life, given up to gloom and distrust and jealousy and suspicion of all around you. You have not taken pleasure in associating with the family, in being interested in that which interested them. But you have built up a barrier between yourself and your father’s family, and then you feel a spirit to blame them for your unhappiness. Blame only yourself. When you fulfill the obligations due your parents, you will find them too ready to fulfill on their part the obligations due to their children. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 18

You misinterpret the feelings of your parents and brothers and sister. They would all help you if they could, but you surround yourself with such a chilly atmosphere of morose and stolid gloom that they could not penetrate this armor if they desired ever so much so to do. You throw off this stolid gloom, make strong efforts to add to the happiness of the family by deeds of kindness and attention to the little everyday duties of life, manifesting an interest in your duties, laboring for your father to help him where he needs to be helped, and you will meet with a decided, happy change. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 19

You are not submissive. You want to plan and dictate too much. You must give this up. Your father is at the head of the family and you should respect his judgment and teach your brothers and sisters to respect the judgment of your father without proposing a plan contrary to his proposed plans. Your influence tells on the family circle. You have responsibilities upon you. You do not realize that your influence and example are aiding your brothers and sister in the formation of their characters. You will have to render an account for the example given these younger than yourself. You are accountable to God for talents that He has given you. Give an account of thy stewardship, will be heard by you from the Master. What can you render back to God? What improvements have you made of your abilities? 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 20

You think the little duties and courtesies of life are not so important and are, in short, unnecessary. Oh, my brother, they act an important part in making up the sum of life’s happiness or misery. See from day to day that every word you utter shall be cheerful and happy. Let not a gloomy, disconsolate impression remain upon your countenance or be seen in your acts. Help your brothers. You are more ready to dictate to them and to leave the burdens that somebody must bear upon them rather than, as a faithful son and brother, bearing your share cheerfully, in union with them. Diligence in the use of your time, industry in useful labor, would be a blessing to you in calling your mind from contemplating unpleasant subjects and indulging in despondency and gloom. If you cannot be happy in your father’s family, neither will you be happy if you have a home of your own. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 21

You carry happiness with you, or unhappiness. You must encourage a disposition to be willing to follow advice and not think that you know what is best. You need the mature experience of your parents. They have anxiety and the deepest interest for you, but they are becoming disheartened. The love of your parents will certainly become chilled unless you give this love something to feed upon. If you are constantly an annoyance and trouble, bringing sadness and unhappiness to their hearts and home, how can that love be kept alive? You will surely wear it out. You have a work to do to redeem the past. Manifest love and affection for your parents and brothers and sister and your efforts in this direction will be repaid. Show a lively interest to take burdens upon yourself and relieve your parents. In doing this you will realize a contentment and happiness you have never felt before. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 22

You may feel at times that your efforts may not have been appreciated when you have tried hard to please and do your duty, but don’t be discouraged. The most successful laborers in God’s great vineyard are those who endure toil patiently, without reference to whether their efforts are appreciated or not, but who work for their Master without apparent or applauded success, simply because they believed they were in the performance of duty, and they believed that every right purpose and well-meant effort would be regarded of their Master. Do these things, not for praise, Beverly, but because you want to do all with faithful integrity, let the result be what it may. The judgment will give every work all the credit it deserves. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 23

Religion will prove you an anchor. Communion with God will impart to every holy impulse a vigor that will make the duties of life a pleasure. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 24

I was shown that industry is a blessing to youth. A life of idleness is to be shunned by a young man as a vice. However humble the occupation may be, if only honorable, if the humble duties are done faithfully, he will not lose his reward. Industry is essential to health. If habits of industry were encouraged, a door would be closed against a thousand temptations. Those who lounge away their days, having no aim or object in life, are troubled with dejection and tempted to seek amusement in forbidden indulgences which enervate the system and tax the physical powers tenfold more than the most taxing labor. Indolence destroys more than hard labor. Many die because they have not the ability or inclination to set themselves to work. “Nothing-to-do” has killed its thousands. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 25

If youth will preserve habits of virtue and strict purity, and observe the laws God has established in the being, they may preserve their lives, although required to perform severe labor during their lifetime. Long life is the heritage of diligence. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 26

Some young men think if they could spend a life in doing nothing they would be supremely happy. They cultivate a hatred for useful labor. They envy the sons of pleasure who devote their lives to amusement and gaity, who laugh and carouse and are free from every burden of life. Those who think thus soon become sour and repulsive. Their deportment becomes vexatious, their incessant complainings annoy and distress their parents, and unhappiness and heartaches are the result of such thoughts and conduct. “Nothing-to-do” has sunk many a young man in perdition. Well-regulated labor is essential for the success of every youth. God could not have inflicted a greater curse upon men and women than to doom them to live a life of inaction. Idleness will destroy soul and body. The heart, the moral character and physical energies are enfeebled. The intellect suffers, and the heart is open to temptation as an open avenue to sink into every vice. The indolent man tempts the devil to tempt him. 2LtMs, Ms 2, 1871, par. 27