Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 5 (1887-1888)


Lt 35, 1888

Snook, Edward

Fresno, California

June 9, 1888

Previously unpublished.

Dear Friend Edward Snook:

I have visited your mother’s home to find her sons and have some talk with them. I enquire, What doest thou, Edward? Are you seeking to make a man of usefulness, or are you idling away the precious moments God has mercifully given you? Have you lost sight of the true design of life? Are you willing to engage in any kind of work that is honorable to earn money to sustain yourself and lighten the burdens of your mother? She has cared and planned and labored for her children, and the only one who is really of any kind of use to her is Marcus. May the Lord bless the young man. He may never grasp very great things, but he may receive at last the benediction of “Well done, good and faithful servant” [Matthew 25:23], if you do not by your precept and example spoil him. You know he is easily influenced. 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 1

What work are you doing, young man? How will you like to look upon your record in the great day of final accounting? You will then appear as a tree of the Lord’s planting bearing much fruit to His glory, or as a worthless tree bearing nothing but leaves. I tell you that which I know: few characters change materially after the person is twenty or twenty-five years old. At that period habits become fixed, impressions formed, and the future character of the man made. 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 2

How can you look upon your mother toiling and planning and working to sustain herself and you, eating from her table, supported by her means, clothed by her money, when you should be lifting from her every care, releasing her from every burden, and rejoicing to see her taking some rest and freedom from care? I should think, as you look upon your father and see him worthless and his influence and nobility as a man gone because of his own habits and course of action, you would be earnest and resolve that you will be a man; that you will bear the impress of the divine and not obliterate God’s image in your nature. 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 3

I tell you, characters are formed in youth and you, young man, are molding your own future. You are by every act writing out your own history. If you now live up to the light God has given you, if you will resist temptation, if you will form correct, virtuous, and manly habits, if you will be an earnest worker, you will only be doing your duty and in thus doing will receive the esteem of all good men and the final benediction of God. 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 4

The declining years of your mother may be made very happy. Now you sorely try her patience. You make it very hard for her both in her temporal as well as her religious life. You pursue a self-willed, indolent, selfish course which calls out from her an urgent protest, and you think [this is] dictatorial and arbitrary. The injustice of your course, the ungrateful indifference of a thankless child, is sharper to her than a serpent’s tooth. And after she has been sharp and spoken decidedly, she has then to take herself to task, to question her own course whether she was, indeed, a Christian; whether she was not hasty and impatient. So you make her Christian life very severe and uncertain by your own unchristian actions. 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 5

If the mother has not done enough to call forth the gratitude of the children, tell me, what more she can do? But few mothers would have plucked up the courage and firmness and willpower, in the fear of God, and carried along her family as your mother has done. And the way you treat your mother, the disregard and disrespect of you, her children, is all registered in the books of heaven. 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 6

Will you see the folly of your course, Edward, as it is? Will you, before it shall be too late, see the mistakes you are making? Will you arouse yourself, learn some trade, place yourself where your powers will be taxed, and grow because they are exercised? God has given you ability, reasoning powers for you to exercise, not to leave these powers lying dormant, but to be used. God has claims upon you and the day of reckoning is coming; He will hold you to these claims. 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 7

How dare you use your time, God’s time, as you do? Remember it is God’s time granted you to do your work for the Master. You may be now vicious or virtuous; just as you exercise your power will be your future reward, either in a blessing or a curse. You may now, by your indifference to the claims of God, become wise to do evil and treasure up wrath against the day of wrath—and who can bear the wrath of an offended God?—or you may, by a life of faithful discharge of duty, be a blessing in this life and by your example reflect light upon the pathway of others and hear at last the “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Verse 23.] 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 8

Now is the sowing time; what kind of harvest are you preparing to reap? That which ye sow, ye shall also reap. Time is passing. You are not sowing precious grain; you are living for your own amusement, cultivating habits that will make you inefficient, indolent, burdensome to your mother. 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 9

As you advance in years, your age will correspond with your youth. The miser acquires the habits in youth to hoard and be selfish. The aged gambler commenced gambling in youth to secure dishonest means; he was too lazy to work and put to the tax his powers to acquire by the sweat of his brow his living. The drunkard learned to be thus in youth. Being out evenings, choosing society that was demoralizing, hanging about the saloons tasting beer and wine, he cultivated the appetite for stimulus until he became a drunkard. 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 10

What is your aim in life? What standard have you decided to reach? Why are you not searching for employment, gaining means to clothe yourself, to pay your board and feel that every meal you eat that you do not earn is taking that which does not belong to you? I must tell you that I am surprised and grieved at your course. You are making yourself inefficient, helpless—in short, doing nothing. 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 11

Now it is not too late for you to overcome the useless, indolent, selfish inclinations. Show yourself a man, a self-sustaining man, earning every week means to sustain yourself, means that you will deposit safely for future use [so] that you will not be a mere dependent, a machine to be used in others’ hands, but a man that uses his brains, that can think and plan and devise. 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 12

Let not one hour of your time pass without having something to show for it. Wherein have you progressed the last five important years of your life? Is it not time that you went diligently, perseveringly to work to make an industrious man of yourself? Above everything else, be a sincere, earnest Christian, true to God, true to your duty. Do not wear the Christian badge and be a hypocrite. You are now no less than this. You know the truth, but do not love it or practice it. Will you not turn a square corner; will you now lay hold upon the hope set before you? I have been shown you are worse than the open sinner because you know the way and do not walk in it. You will be lost if your probation closes as it now stands. God help you to repent and be converted and then seek with your whole heart to be a Christian day by day. 5LtMs, Lt 35, 1888, par. 13