Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 66, 1874

White, J. E.



Previously unpublished.

[Friday morning, circa Autumn 1874.]


Brother Butler is acquainted with your life at Ann Arbor and with matters at Battle Creek. He knew it all before father came from California. He knew I had all the burden I could bear, so he did not mean to say anything to me, but I felt that I ought to know how matters were going as far as you were concerned. He said he knew that your father would not have encouraged you to come to California if he had known how matters stood in Michigan with you. He said that many brethren thought it strange that we should let you have means to use in so prodigal and reckless a manner as you had done. I find that this is the feeling with many. We have tried our best to encourage you, by holding out some inducements before you, but we fear that our efforts to help you have only been the worst thing we could do for you. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 1

Brother Butler will, he said, talk with you. Be careful how you meet it. He said he could never give his influence to have you placed in positions of responsibility where you would have the handling of means. If you were perfectly honest you showed a great lack of ability to use means with discretion, and the cause of God could run no risks of being marred with your deficiencies, however good your intentions might be. Of course, I could not open my mouth. These things he told me at the different camp meetings and before he left Battle Creek. I had requested him not to say much to father. He said he did not think it best to trouble him mind. But the state of affairs was such that father did find out these things, for it was impossible for him not to know these things. He has taken no hasty, extravagant view of matters. He has not become excited or irritated. He has felt as any father would feel—deep sorrow that your course should be such, on your account and on his account, and because of the reproach that rests upon the cause of God. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 2

These mistakes of yours cannot be hid, even from the world. If you rush on headlong and plan for yourself and fail over and over, and yet cannot see where you made a mistake and go on just as ardently to plan again, and be so earnest and set and sanguine in your own ideas and plans as not to be advised, but follow your own ways and fail over and over again, people cannot have confidence in your honesty. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 3

Brother Butler will talk with you, but I entreat of you not to get independent, not to get in a rage. Control your feelings. The independent spirit of your letters has hedged up your own way so that your father sees that you are not changed in heart or life, and he does not trust you. If you would only feel your wrongs and sense your errors and be humbled under a sense of your wrongs and talk and write humbly, and your deportment be humble in view of your past erroneous life, we should have some hope for future reform on your part. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 4

When Brother Butler talks with you, for your own interest be careful not to do as you have done—find fault with father and justify yourself. If you do this you close the door to your own interest, fast and sure. In view of the past you should be the last man to be independent. Lay aside your bravado spirit, your self-justification and independence, and confess your wrongs. Nobody would be so unwise as to trust you till he should see you had a sense of your past errors and mistakes, for without this sense you would fail in the same manner in the future. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 5

However small and innocent these things may seem in your eyes, they will not seem the same to the eyes of God-fearing men. Your only safe course is humbly to confess your miserable backslidings and course of folly and to be thoroughly converted, bringing forth fruit meet for repentance. It is not your father that you need to accuse of kicking you when down. All this talk is the product of the natural, unsubdued heart. Your father, if he is a man, would feel and could not help feeling sorrowful and alarmed on account of your course. He has taken the responsibility of getting you to California and entrusted to you great responsibilities. Instead of writing as you have done, had you written humbly, as you should, we could have some hope of the future; but it is the same old rebellious spirit that rises like a lion. Edson, we dare not trust you. We dare not flatter ourselves that you are changed in heart. In fact, we know by your recent letters that you are not changed, and without an entire transformation we cease to have one particle of hope that you will reform and your life be changed in the future. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 6

I speak to you as I would to anyone who claimed no relationship with me. I love you, and while I write I cease awhile to pray for you. May God reveal to you both these matters as they are. Do not, I beg of you, make excuses. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 7

Edson, what course did you take in going to California? Did you feel at liberty to go into the restaurants and spend as you please to gratify your and Emma’s taste—a thing you knew your parents had not done? In my trip from California I spent seventy-five cents for bread because my gems were moldy. I had no time like yourself to prepare the most proper food. I therefore took a few gems, a little cake, and a little sauce. This was my dependence for a week. And I was to go into labor the very next day after I arrived in Iowa. I was not sick with gluttony, or the indulgence of my taste because I had a chance to do it. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 8

You have been so loose, so far behind on these things, I feel that the frown of God has been upon you. Get it off, Edson; get it off as soon as possible. If you should, either of you, die in your present state I should bury you with a broken heart, feeling that there was no hope in your case. You have so long in your life looked upon sin as a small matter that I think you are honestly deceived as to what sin is and how God looks upon even the smallest acts of disobedience and transgression of His holy law. Sin does not appear to you hateful. There is to Emma and Edson a pleasure, an attraction in sin. Satan glosses over its heinousness and makes you think that God does not mark these things against you. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 9

Now children, when you sincerely return unto the Lord with full contrition for your sins, God will then speak pardon. Father says he is glad for your explanations to see that he has set his figures too high. But your explanation of the cookstove is very unsatisfactory to us both. No matter what you thought or purposed, the cookstove was not yours till the value of it was placed in our hands. You had no right to it. We pay thirty dollars for one not nearly as good. It is a second-hand one of Van Horn’s. Our old stove we offered for forty dollars. We afterward said we would let you take the stove and use it but we would want it again when we kept house, because we thought so much of the boiler. But this is of but little account. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 10

I see the bureau I gave you is gone—sold, I suppose. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 11

The reckless state of things we found in your debts and other things has disgraced yourself and us. There is no use for you to excuse these things, Edson. Confess your reckless course without palliation. We are doing up work for eternity. Your father says he cannot enter into controversy with you, he bringing your faults before you, for you brace yourself and justify your course and resist his efforts to have you see these things in their true light. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 12

I have hope yet that God will hear our prayers and show you your wrong course as He views it, and that you will have that repentance that not to be repented of. My children, my dear children, lay aside your pride; lay off your self-righteousness; put away your selfish love of ease and following inclination and pleasure, and agonize before God lest you be left, in your blindness and self-deception, compassed with sparks of your own kindling, but not lighting your taper from the sacred fire of God’s kindling. Your souls must not be lost. When you make an entire surrender to God we shall know it. God then will entrust you with His work. Until this change takes place, I pray God to hedge up your way on the right hand and on the left that His work may not be marred with your imperfections. We ask you to come into harmony with the Spirit of God. We pray that you may do this. Oh, seek God! Seek God before it shall be too late! Your future good resolves do not mend past wrongs. I beg of you to have a humble spirit. We love you and that is why we speak plainly to you. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 13

My dear children, I feel in earnest in this matter. I think it is time for you both to take hold together, for both of you to have deep heart work, for both of you to seek deep and thorough conversion before God. The reason you have not succeeded in carrying out your resolutions in the past is that you have never felt your wrongs in the past. You need to feel the deep wrongs and the sin of following your judgment and your inclination, because from your youth you were desirous to please yourselves, irrespective of anybody or anything. I have made excuses and excuses and thought you meant right, but I did wrong. I should have given that spirit of self-importance and independence no quarter. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 14

But it is too late in the day for you to palliate your sins. God help you both to take hold of this work together, not one excusing and sympathizing with the other, but each of you to see and be really anxious to feel your errors and correct them. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 15

My very soul hopes and prays and longs for you to be converted, to have a high and exalted sense of sacred things. The course Edson and Emma have pursued I look upon with surprise and astonishment. Your deception in regard to your real condition before God is alarming. What can the Master say to you? Can He say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servants”? Can He say, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”? [Matthew 25:23.] I hope you will now make thorough work. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 16

I hope Emma will arouse from her state of inefficiency and irresponsibility and that she will cultivate a will in the direction of right. There is no virtue in Emma being like a greased rug in regard to moral power. To be so yielding and so pliable, resisting no wrong influence, but setting up her will when her course is questioned, when self is to be denied, or when self-sacrifice is required, is not the thing. The trouble is that Emma has just given herself up to follow inclination, and has no moral power to stand in integrity for the right, because the course of sin is more pleasant to the carnal heart than to battle with her own natural inclinations and subdue her desires. Oh, that she would set her heart in the right direction! Why, Emma, your life is a blank as you have been. If you do not resist Satan and feel that God has laid upon you a work—as He surely has done—to resist the temptations of Satan, you will fail of everlasting life. By the exercise of self-denial, by firmly battling against wrong, and by opposing the incoming of Satan you will gain moral sinew and muscle and become spiritually strong. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 17

How does your past life look in comparison with overcoming as Christ overcame? Compare your life of indifference, of serving God at will and letting it alone at pleasure, with the life of Christ. You have no real sense of the Christian life. If you had only borne one proving of God! But you have not. You have shown that you had no real oil in your vessel with your lamp and, like the foolish virgins, you are coming up to the day of God without oil. The oil is divine grace, moral power. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 18

It is of no use, my children, to make child’s play of the service of Christ. If you ever stand in the kingdom of glory among the blood-washed throng who have come up through great tribulation, you will know what heart anguish is in battling with selfishness and sin. Favorite sins will have to be overcome and self crucified. The spirit of humility and meekness and true holiness must characterize your lives. It is, with you, now or never. “Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?” [Ezekiel 33:11.] 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 19

It is dark. I can write no more. Your mother, seeking to be an overcomer. God bless you, is my prayer. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 20

In regard to your things: we will see that they are cared for. Your silver Sister Hall took to carry East to the camp meetings for Brother Butler to take, but I did not dare to take them, fearing they might not be safe. Lucinda was taken sick with fever and we left her at Brookfield. I tried to find the package she had put up and failed, so Brother Butler did not take it, but we will have a letter soon from Lucinda, and she will tell me where she has put the silver. Your card basket we will send if you desire, or any other things, in the next box of books that goes. You need not be in a great hurry. You are not in need of these things; you have the use of our things. But we will see that your things are all cared for. Those you want sold can be sold. Specify the things you want preserved, and we will preserve them. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 21

We will lend you the things of ours which you must have to keep house with. We shall probably have the little girls come East when Brother Butler comes. Their board shall be considered. All will be right in this respect. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 22

Your Mother. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 23

My dear children: God knows all about you. He will hear your prayers. He will regard your repentant cries to Him. Take hold of God, both of you, and rest not till you have the evidence that God is yours and you are His. I beg of you, my children, to rivet your souls to the Eternal Rock, Christ Jesus. Let your past life of folly suffice, and now live a new life. Live to God, not self. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 24

We intend to spend the winter East and will have the children with us, and will send Addie to school, and perhaps May. We do not let these children eat all they will, for it is not good for them. We restrict their diet to what in our judgment is best for them. We hope they will be good children and strictly live health reform. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 25

Edson, your course has been so singular. It seems that you have had the greatest desire to get means in your hands in any way you could, to carry out present inclinations and notions without thought in regard to the future outcome of the matter. Your course for years has revealed that you have no horror of debt, but to carry out plans and notions you would run in debt to any one man or one dozen men, without looking ahead to see how these debts might be canceled in the future. If you had been less sanguine and self-confident, you would have been guarded lest your outgoes should have overreached your income. You should have been extremely cautious not to go into debt on any account. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 26

This we have warned you over and over again not to do, but if anybody would trust you you would get in debt and expend means unnecessarily without forethought or consideration. Your past failures unfit you for large responsibilities. But be patient and change your course, and you will work your way up slowly, surely, and humbly amid discouragements, distrust, and suspicion. You have earned this. But now take hold as you have never done in your life before. Be willing to be advised. Be jealous of your own judgment. Distrust your own plans. Move cautiously, prudently. Put away your pride. Do not have wants, Emma, that are not real wants. Deny yourself. Take up your cross and be a meek, humble Christian. 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 27

In haste and much anxiety on your account, 2LtMs, Lt 66, 1874, par. 28