Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 3 (1876 - 1882)


Lt 3a, 1880

White, J. E.

Battle Creek, Michigan

February 3, 1880

Portions of this letter are published in 3Bio 133.

Dear Son Edson:

I have not been able to sit up for about one week. I am improving now, but slowly. I have felt so desirous to write you before long. Your case has rested with great weight upon my mind. I have felt so distressed in reference to the matter that I have not been able to sleep, or to be happy. My children I have given to the Lord, and I have felt that I was greatly honored among women if God would condescend to accept and use my children in His service. 3LtMs, Lt 3a, 1880, par. 1

Light has been given to my children from time to time, warning, reproving, entreating, and encouraging. Very much light has been given you. I told you I had been shown that God designed that you brothers, Willie and Edson, should work together. This I plainly stated to you in Oakland. Willie’s slow caution and good judgment gave him the qualities for a safe business manager, while you were quick to see, quick to execute and do your work with dispatch. But with these desirable qualities were serious defects. You lacked the qualifications to estimate correctly the outgoes. You were not a safe calculator. You let things run in uncertainty, guessing at your true standing but not knowing things for certain. You neglected business, which needed attention then and there; you neglected to keep debt and credit fully and thoroughly. You were unsafe in judgment. You were not satisfied to go slowly and surely, climbing the ladder of progress one round at a time. You needed a calm, patient, persevering spirit, a steadiness of purpose, a holding on and holding out in order to succeed. You needed a regular, well-considered plan; system in everything; doing only one thing at a time and perseveringly taking up one thing after another with thoroughness. Willie and you together could work, if you would seek the glory of God and the prosperity of His cause rather than applause and to glorify yourself. 3LtMs, Lt 3a, 1880, par. 2

Your unconsecrated spirit would not allow you to take the position God would have you take, both for your own good and the good of His cause. You knew the will of God and refused to do it. Again I presented the matter before you when I was in California, but you would not then see the matter in the right light. Self was unsubdued. I wrote you, as you will see by examining my letters from Texas, to the same point—what God designed in reference to you two brothers. But although you nominally consented for Willie to come to California, and invited him to come, you were in the same position in heart and mind—not to come down from your independence and submit to his judgment or his counsel. If Willie could come and you move independently in your own judgment, all well; but to yield to his counsel, no; you stood in defiance to the last moment. Here again the will of God was made plain. You knew it and did it not. 3LtMs, Lt 3a, 1880, par. 3

Then when I tried to present your case in a light to give you influence, you used this to your advantage, and the cautions, the reproofs, the warnings, you overlooked. You abused the light given and passed on in your independence, and God left you to your own course, your own wisdom, to develop yourself. If now you fail to see your defects, if now you charge to other causes your errors rather than to charge them on yourself, you will never see them; you will never reform. 3LtMs, Lt 3a, 1880, par. 4

In my last vision I was shown that God gave you another trial, let you pass over the ground again. You had the most favorable position and chance that you will ever have. You could have redeemed your failures of the past, but you have failed, utterly failed. You will never again have as good chance to become a man of trust and honor. 3LtMs, Lt 3a, 1880, par. 5

Notwithstanding the amazing responsibility and how much was at stake, you continued to stake all, playing at the game of life, in order to indulge your own way, engage in scheming and new projects. Had you taken yourself out of the way, it would have been tenfold better for us in our relation to the cause on the Pacific Coast, tenfold better for yourself, and fiftyfold better for the financial interest of the association. You have been playing at a losing game. You have imperiled the cause of God because no human power was sufficiently strong to hold you in check. Not even the voice of God did you heed. You acted out your own perverse will. You were impatient of restraint, impetuous; when your will was crossed you would break out into a fume, and storm. But your day in these things is ended. I will not give my voice to hold you one hour in that office. You have imperiled the office again and again and it is time you resigned all position there, for your course has proved to others your unfitness to be there. 3LtMs, Lt 3a, 1880, par. 6

Now, my son, I advise you to leave California for good. Tell me what your places are worth or what they have cost you, and if we can, we will purchase them and place in your hands means to square yourself with the world. Come to Battle Creek, go to school, but do not remain in a place where so great responsibilities are involved. For your own sake, for the sake of the cause of God, and for Christ’s sake, place yourself where your continual temptation to scheme and invent ways to expend means will not imperil the cause. It has been the bane of your life to carry out your own way and persist in carrying it out at all hazards. You will talk with those you are connected with until you make them see the matter as you do. 3LtMs, Lt 3a, 1880, par. 7