Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)


Lt 19, 1879

White, J. E.

Denison, Texas

March 22, 1879

Portions of this letter are published in 10MR 379.

Dear Son Edson:

I am not sorry that you express in your letter a determination not to be driven from your post of duty by opposition, censure, or prejudice. You will do well to cultivate steadiness of purpose and unwearied perseverance. This will become habit if continued, and you will not fail to realize the beneficial influence during your lifetime. 3LtMs, Lt 19, 1879, par. 1

It is related of the celebrated conqueror, Timor the Tartar, that upon an occasion of adverse fortune he was compelled to secret himself from his pursuers in a ruined building. While in this condition, as he was ruminating upon his ill fortune, he spied an ant sedulously engaged in efforts to carry a kernel of grain larger than itself up a high wall. For a long time its efforts were unavailing. Still, at every defeat, would it renew its exertions with unabated energy and perseverance. Sixty-nine times did it assay to perform this feat, and as often failed. But the seventieth time, the industrious insect succeeded in gaining the top of the wall with its prize. “The sight” said the conqueror, “gave me courage at the moment, and I have never forgotten the lesson it conveyed.” Edson, let the example of the persevering ant teach you a lesson of patience and perseverance. Without perseverance you may undertake a thousand projects and make a success of none. Bend all the energies of your mind to the branch of the work in which you are engaged. Let nothing induce you to turn aside. 3LtMs, Lt 19, 1879, par. 2

“A young man who had wasted his patrimony by profligacy, whilst standing one day on the brow of a precipice from which he had determined to throw himself, formed the sudden resolution to regain what he had lost. The purpose thus formed was kept; and though he began by shoveling a load of coal into a cellar, for which he received only twelve and a half cents, yet he proceeded from one step to another till he more than recovered his lost possessions and died worth sixty thousand pounds sterling.” 3LtMs, Lt 19, 1879, par. 3

We are not so anxious that you should become rich as that you should form correct habits. Faithfulness and steadfastness of purpose are traits of character which all young men should cultivate. Let a young man earn the reputation of faithfulness in the performance of all the duties entrusted to him, and he will secure the confidence of all connected with him; but let his interest be diverted, let him become careless and unreliable, and soon all confidence in him is destroyed. If you have business to transact for others, do it with faithfulness as if it were your own; and more especially, if others have had sufficient confidence in you to entrust you with grave responsibilities. You may every day gain an experience that is of the greatest value to you. I want you to make life a success. Seek counsel of men of experience, and be willing to learn of them. But above all seek counsel of God. You will then move cautiously and with good judgment. Do not be occupied by too many objects or enterprises. Such a course is almost certain to bring failure. May the Lord be your guide is my daily prayer. Move in the fear of God, and you will increase in wisdom as greater responsibilities are placed upon you. 3LtMs, Lt 19, 1879, par. 4

Your father and I have felt desirous that Edson and Emma should be with us this summer in the mountains and that Willie and Mary should also join us. This would certainly be most gratifying to your parents, and you could be a great help to us. But the question arises, Would this be duty? If the Lord sanctions, all is well; with His blessing resting upon such a reunion, it would be to us one of the greatest privileges. But if the Lord does not guide you to take this course, in no case follow human judgment, for your journey would prove a failure. I dare not act selfishly because this union of our family would be pleasant and agreeable and urge you to come, leaving a position of trust where you are. No, my children. Go to God for your duty. Follow the leadings of His Spirit. I know you could help us much and wish it could be right for you to be with us, and yet I am inclined to think the Lord does not will this. I look forward to the coming of Christ, when, if we are faithful, we shall be united no more to be separated. 3LtMs, Lt 19, 1879, par. 5