Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)

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Lt 35, 1876

Children

Wilmington, Delaware

July 30, 1876

Portions of this letter are published in UL 225; 3Bio 43; 7MR 287.

Dear Children:

Here we are in one of the suburban towns of Philadelphia. We are now about one mile from our boardinghouse in a beautiful grove upon a hill overlooking Wilmington, [Delaware], and several surrounding cities. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 1

Dr. [J. H.] Kellogg, Will Fairfield, and your father and mother came out here for retirement to spend the hours of the Sabbath. Mary [Clough] was not well and chose to rest in her boarding room. We have been passing very profitably the hours of the Sabbath in conversing upon religious subjects—the life of Christ, health reform, and kindred subjects. John takes a very sensible view of health reform. I find him in a very good, healthful state of mind on these subjects upon which we have conversed. We see the need of more earnest, active effort in reference to the great subjects of health reform. Our Health Institute is sinking for the want of proper physicians and proper workers, interested workers. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 2

We have sought to make Dr. Kellogg feel it is his duty to go into the Institute, and take hold with Willie Fairfield [and] Brother Sprague, and with zeal and interest bring up the Institute. We have taken our luncheon on the green grass and now [have] conversation again. Important matters are to be considered and decisions made. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 3

We came in to Philadelphia, Friday morning and found John waiting for us at the depot. We soon took the horse cars, which took us to the depot where we stepped on board the train for Wilmington, twenty-six miles from Philadelphia. Dr. Kellogg had engaged a large room, very pleasant, with five windows, well furnished for your father and mother. Above this was a room for Mary, a cozy little room. We have both these rooms and board for fourteen dollars per week. This is a pleasant family and we feel that we have been fortunate in securing so good a boarding place. Now our business is to visit [the] Centennial grounds every day, see what we can and Mary make reports. We shall take our dinner with us from our landlady. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 4

The “Way of Life” is to be revised and improved in every way. The charts are to be considered and our pictures for books are to be engraved in New York. There is enough to consider and plan and arrange, and we hope to do this all with exactitude which will leave us no chance for regret. We see much work to be done at Battle Creek. We were called away the Sabbath we designed to spend there. There must be some labor put forth in Battle Creek before matters will stand on the right basis. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 5

Well, children, how do things move in California? Let us hear from you. We feel anxious to learn how matters stand there. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 6

We greatly desire to return but feel that we cannot do this unless Father shall feel free to go to Oakland in the fall. I think it would be a terrible mistake to give up the field in California now to the enemy. Right management in the fear of God would give us precious victories. Satan is busily at work in various ways to hinder the progress of the cause of truth upon the Pacific Coast. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 7

We must individually rally to the standard and by personal efforts in the fear of God press back the opposing forces and gain precious victories. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 8

Edson, Father’s fears are on your account. His experience in connection with you in Oakland was such he does not wish to ever have it repeated. He would never cross the plains again if we would consent to this decision. I feel that the cause of God needs your father’s help on the Pacific Coast. I deeply regret the past. Your course in setting up a separate interest looks so unlike the work of God and so contrary to the light He has given in reference to you. This very fact is an objection to Father’s resuming his business on the Pacific Coast. I feel but little burden for the people of California, but would be so gratified if we could hold what we have already gained in California. But they may not be ready yet to be helped. We may have to wait some time longer. I would be glad to publish my books on the Pacific Coast, to write them there, and publish them, but I hardly dare say anything very encouraging to Father, fearing he would be disappointed and again have to leave California in discouragement. I dare not risk a second trial. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 9

Father does not fear because of outside influence outside of our family, but he does dread above everything the disaffected elements in his own family. I wish matters had never occurred as they have in reference to your case, which has altered all our plans and caused us to change all our arrangements. Oh, if you could have borne the test of God, if you would have laid aside your schemes and plans and trusted your father; if you had kept bitterness out of your heart and sealed your lips instead of censuring your father, God would have blessed you. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 10

But I have said and done all I could say and do, and now I must leave Father and you with the Lord. I do not think that Father has confessions to make to you, but you have entertained wrong feelings toward your father, feelings which should never exist in the heart of a son to his father. The obligation of a son to his father, you have never yet felt. I have seen by conversing with you that you take wrong views of your father. You do not correctly estimate his efforts to help you. His kind offers you have rejected in a manner to show your distrust of your father. All this is wrong. How much real filial love dwells in your breast for your father? I venture to say but very little. How much honor is cherished in your heart for your father? Rather than to question your course or to have your course questioned, you have not hesitated to make statements in reference to your father and Willie that would place them in an unfavorable light before those in California who are easily tempted. The same course was pursued in Battle Creek, and how much evil and resistance of our influence was brought about through your talk in Battle Creek the judgment must reveal. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 11

I hate to mention these things, but when I consider that there must be an entire transformation with you on these points, I fear and tremble lest you shall deceive your own soul to your own ruin. A wily foe is on your track. You have failed over and over to bear the proving of God. You have not understood the point to which the Lord would bring you. You have overlooked the work necessary to bring you into harmony with the Spirit of God and with heaven. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 12

Every member of our family God would have sweetly harmonize and blend together. If they cannot have that harmony upon the earth, how can they have it in heaven? If a long eternity is to be passed together, I ask, What is the work to be done preparatory for this sweet union? You have lost confidence in your father, when the greater lack of confidence, I firmly believe, should be in yourself. I want you to come as close as it is possible for a son to his father and to your only living brother. I have the tenderest love and interest for you, and I shall ever feel it my duty to counsel and admonish and warn you. Let your union be firm here below. Do not be blind to your errors and your motives and your feelings, but do see yourself as in the light of eternity and let the happiest union exist between you and your parents. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 13

Father has given you evidences that he has a desire to help you and Emma. I want these things to have their full weight, and you to recognize these things as evidences of your father’s love and desire to come close to your heart. This estrangement from your father and brother must forever cease. You must work with all your might in the direction to cultivate love and union instead of viewing matters from your standpoint and keeping before your mind’s eye the little grievances you may have experienced. Here is where the trouble is. You do not view the past in a correct light. You justify and excuse your course, which is very faulty, and which has brought upon you much inconvenience and needless suffering. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 14

Now, my son, look at these things with a subdued, softened heart. Go before God in humility and beg of Him to let you see yourself as you have been and as you are. We are nearing the close of our probation and I feel the need of daily living according to the light the Lord now lets shine upon our pathway. Cherish the light which shines today, for we may never have another day. Do up your work each day as though it were your very last. Leave no word unspoken which ought to be said and let no words be recorded in the angel’s book of records which will be regretted by you in the day of final reckoning. To fail of everlasting life would be a fearful mistake. Oh, my dear boy, I plead with you to deal truly with your own soul, see yourself and do not try to blind your eyes to your own errors. There must be perfect harmony between you and your parents and your brother Willie before you can be perfectly happy and where the blessing of God can attend you. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 15

What sacrifices have you made for Jesus? Your father paid your passage to the Pacific Coast to help you and that you should help him. You may make yourself a great hindrance instead of a help. If you are, I fear disaster will come to you. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 16

Your father does not speak one word in disparagement of you. He tries to place you before the people in a high light that I fear will not bear. But I leave these words with you. Do not be offended or discouraged, but go to work in earnest. Remove the obstacles in your way, and in the way of your father, as fast as possible and rub out and begin anew. From this date never let bitterness, or even false independence, come in to separate you from your father or brother. We must be a united family here, if we are united in heaven. May God help you, my dear children, [to] not leave your thoughts centered on yourselves but let your life be characterized by unselfish thoughts and actions, irrespective of your temporal matters. Live for the next world and lay up a treasure above. Jesus has done all for us, given all for us and what have we done for Him? 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 17

Edson, if you can say or do anything to remove the obstacles from Father’s mind of coming to Oakland, do so. If you have nothing to do in this matter, if you have done all your duty, may you be blessed of God, is my prayer. God has given you, my son, talents to improve, not to pervert or abuse. Do not let your selfish, personal interest come in first and you make it an object to secure temporal advantages first while your talents are wrapped in a napkin and buried in the world. “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God,” said one who knows and speaks understandingly, “than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Psalm 84:10. The humblest service in the cause of God is of more paying interest than the most lucrative employment in our own selfish enterprises. It is too sacred and fearfully important a time now in this period of this world’s history for us to be employed in serving ourselves, caring for self with an intensity that is worthy of a better cause. There is a fearful want of faith and trust in God to do those things for us He has promised, if we will cheerfully walk in the path of devotion and humble obedience. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 18

Truth, precious truth is to sanctify, subdue, refine, elevate and finally to exalt us to a seat at the right hand of the Majesty of heaven. Shall we grow feeble in spiritual power for want of exercise? Shall we go day after day without a marked and clear experience in the religious life because we permit our minds to be absorbed in worldly business? Here, my dear son, is your danger. Here are the wiles of Satan entangling you. The very powers or organs that you cultivate become strong and you are imperceptibly placing yourself where you will be in a position unfitted to engage in the work of God. The time that you should be giving yourself earnestly to the work, you are really unfitting yourself for the work God would honor you to do in His cause. One pretext after another has arisen to your mind to excuse you from taking hold of the work which you could do at once, while you are waiting till this object is gained or that project is accomplished. It is not the great work you are fitted to do now. But it is the little duties connected with the work of God, the small responsibilities borne with humbleness and fidelity, that will qualify you for higher responsibilities, more important trusts. Purity of motives, unselfish interest you must cultivate. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 19

Press close to your younger brother, Willie. Let no emulation or strife separate your heart and affections from him. Let no selfish feelings or jealousy find a place in your heart. Empty it of all these things. Cultivate love, confidence and trust. Live up to the Bible standard. Carry out the light God has given you. Show in kindly acts and words and unselfish acts your true interest and affection for Willie. All the advances you make will be reflected back on you. I shall never be satisfied until I see you both, firmly and strongly, lovingly united in the closest bonds of brotherly love. God help you to work to this end. You are older than Willie and you should seek in every way to help him and bind him to your heart. Love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 20

Religion, my son, is not as some take it, head work, theory. It must be practically carried out in all the byways and broadways of life. It must regulate the life as well as to convince the mind. It alone must purify the heart. God requires everyone who professes His name to be good citizens and that the life of strict integrity and pure devotion should leave a bright light to the world. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 21

But, my dear children, above everything else, you need to encourage a love for your father. His life has been one of cankering care, of perplexity. His kindest efforts have been time and again abused. And if his mind is sometimes overwrought, who should be so blind to these things as his own children? Who should be the first to soothe and by their tender devotion and care to not irritate and cross his track as his own sons? Who should be among the first to be his comfort and show by tender acts their love to him? Here is where you have not felt your duty. You have not honored your father. You have not felt the force of the fifth commandment and sacredly observed it. These defects in your character seek at once to remedy. Take hold of the work understandingly. True Christian courtesy you need to cultivate toward your father before God can approve you or grant the blessing annexed to the faithful obedience of the fourth [fifth] commandment—a promise valuable in itself, worth more than a title to lands or any temporal possessions. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 22

Edson, dear son, whatever course your father may pursue, it does not change your relation to him. He is your father still. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 23

Please read the history of Noah. He became intoxicated with wine. Two of his sons saw him in his disgrace, uncovered in his tent. They made a capital of it. Their impure minds seized on this as a pretext to resist his wise counsels and disregard his authority. They severely criticized their father and mocked and derided his misfortune. These two unworthy sons, instead of concealing their father’s disgrace, eagerly told their brothers, who rebuked the disrespect of the reporters and with true, filial love and sympathy laid a garment upon their shoulders, and walked backward and covered their father’s disgrace. Here is an example for all sons as long as time shall last. God rebuked the unfilial conduct of the sons of Noah. Their posterity was affected by this curse which God pronounced upon their parents. God blessed the faithful sons who honored their father, Noah. Their posterity was remembered of God for good in blessings. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 24

My dear son, you have ever been remiss in your acts of tenderness and affection and kindly, thoughtful care to relieve his anxieties instead of adding to them. You are in the strength of your manhood. Your father has manfully fought the battles of life, and has had a life of toil and care. You are young; but little have you risked, but little have you ventured and sacrificed for the truth. You have not been shattered by paralysis. You should now be to your father what you never have been—a forbearing, _____ [page torn], compassionate son. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 25

Mother.

August 2

Have been on the Centennial ground once. We are on our way today. There is much more of this than we anticipated—representations from all parts of the world—Swedes, Norwegians, Laplanders, and some others are in life size, natural as life in their native dress. It is indeed worth seeing, but this is only an item. The designs of “Way of Life” are now to be presented to the artist, also Law of God charts. This is a large business being carried on by Father just now in Philadelphia. 3LtMs, Lt 35, 1876, par. 26

Mother.