Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7

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Lt 23a, 1892

Prescott, Brother and Sister

George’s Terrace, Melbourne, Australia

September 25, 1892

Portions of this letter are published in OHC 280.

Dear Brother and Sister Prescott,

We have been passing through the confusion of moving, and here we are, tarrying since last Thursday at George’s Terrace, our school building. Tomorrow, Monday, if the Lord will, we shall take the cars for Adelaide. Some months ago it was thought best for me to go to Adelaide, and W. C. White went there to find a suitable place for us; but though he spent considerable time and money in the search, he was not successful. I was then so very helpless I had a great dread of riding on the cars, and no really good place being found, we considered the way closed up. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 1

Now I am improving in health. The last two mornings I have been able to dress myself. Although it cost me considerable suffering, I felt repaid, for I had gained a victory. Elder Daniells left Melbourne for Adelaide last Wednesday, and it was arranged that W. C. White, Emily Campbell, May Walling, and I should follow as soon as a house could be secured for us. Elder Daniells searched quite thoroughly without success; but we decided to break up our home and go at all events, trusting the Lord to provide a place for us. Friday the news came that a suitable house was found, with six rooms, furnished, at twenty-five dollars a month. We telegraphed immediately to take the house. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 2

Things are somewhat different in this country from what they are in America. Families occupying tenements have just room enough for themselves, and no place to accommodate guests. Vacant houses are scarce in Adelaide, especially in the winter, for the climate is regarded as more healthful than that of Melbourne, and many visitors go there in the winter season. Elder Daniells is to hold a series of meetings in Adelaide, and as his health will not admit of his taking all the labor, I hope to help him a little, if the Lord gives me strength. Willie cannot remain with us much of the time. Elder Tenney leaves for America in about two weeks, and Willie must have the supervision of the office in his absence. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 3

The church in Adelaide is the next largest church to the one in Melbourne, and since Elder Curtis left they have had no minister to labor among them. We shall hold meetings for about four or six weeks; then, if the Lord gives me strength, we will go to Sydney and spend four weeks. The Lord has blessed the labors of Brother Robert Hare and Brother Steed, and about twenty-five have received the truth at Parramatta, a town near Sydney. They are a fine class of people, full of zeal and fervor, and they at once began to build a meetinghouse. We shall try to encourage them. I have spoken only three times in Sydney, that was during our short stay there on our way to Melbourne. From Sydney we expect to return to Melbourne and remain during the conference; then we go to New Zealand. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 4

If God gives me strength, I can carry out the program if this is His will. If He has another course for me to pursue, I will be subject to His guidance. One thing is certain—unless restored to health by the power of God, I cannot travel in this country. The homes have not the conveniences and comforts that we have in America. The rooms are seldom warmed. The people do not feel the need of fire, and would think it strange for us to require it. Then the beds are so hard I could not possibly rest on them, and the cooking is so different from ours that here would be another difficulty. There are exceptions, of course. The home of Sister Caro, in Napier, New Zealand, is all that one could desire. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 5

In view of the difficulties we must necessarily meet, I am sometimes strongly impressed that it would be presumption for me to visit the several places as I so much desire to do. I have been a great sufferer for eight months, and I am somewhat timid at the thought of venturing out as did Abraham, not knowing whither he went, unless, like Abraham, I am called and sent by the Lord. These journeyings, whether by boat or rail, are quite expensive, and unless it is really my duty to visit the different churches, I prefer to remain in one place and do what I can. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 6

I am so thankful I can say that I am improving in health. As yet, however, it is impossible for me to walk much, or to ascend stairs. Here at the school, where I have a room in the second storey, I have to be carried in an armchair up and down stairs, two strong men serving as an elevator. I am convinced the cause of my illness is not so much rheumatism as exhaustion of the nerves. I sleep but little, because my nerves are so sensitive that even on the easiest bed I can lie but a short time in one position. But the Lord is good; I will praise His holy name; He has given me His sustaining grace; His love seems more precious every day, and I so unworthy. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 7

We are anxious to hear all about the work and the workers in America. A deep interest is felt by our brethren here in the young men who have gone there from Australia and New Zealand. Great anxiety is expressed that they shall come back to their homes with the Spirit of the Lord upon them, fitted to take hold of the work here as true missionaries for God. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 8

I have not received a line from you since I have been in this country. I think of you often with affection, and wish I could see you both coming in my room as you have done in Battle Creek. Not one word have you written to me about that baby. I want to hear about your family, how you are prospering. I am a long way off, but when I am praying for our friends in America, I seem to be near, as though I could speak to you, and your faces seem so familiar. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 9

Our school here is blessed of the Lord. The students are as good a company as we have seen in our schools. All are trying to be Christians, and are trying to do their best. Some of them are young men of much promise, in principle firm as a rock, and we hope they will develop into good, devoted workers. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 10

This is the great want in this country—men of well balanced minds, sober, substantial, and devoted. Except in Melbourne, the churches here have had little labor. In Melbourne a hundred missionaries are needed to work among the people, and one need not be in another’s way. Then there are the little towns surrounding Melbourne that should be visited and an interest awakened. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 11

There are a few now at work in the suburbs of Melbourne. One of these is a sister who has a large family of children. Her husband is a bitter opposer. She works diligently at home, neglecting nothing, that her husband may have no reason to find fault; yet she devotes considerable time daily, if possible, to visiting, giving light by explaining the truth to others. Several have lately been brought to the faith by such earnest, devoted laborers. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 12

What can we say more than has been said to arouse our brethren and sisters, generally, to co-operate with God in preparing a people to stand in the day of His preparation? In our churches in Michigan there are many who could do a good work in bringing others to a knowledge of the truth. Many would work if they only had sufficient help and encouragement. But this matter of teaching the people how to work has not received the attention it demands. Have we as a people the last message of mercy to be given to the world? Have we a knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent? Then why do we not feel more burden to teach others also how they may work in various ways to arrest the attention of the people and lead them to consider what is truth? 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 13

Oh, that our people might have their perceptions quickened by the Holy Spirit, that they might see that there are souls to be sought for and brought to the fold of Christ! Instead of employing their hours in studying up work to keep their hands busy, as if there was nothing more important to be done in the vineyard of the Lord, let them care for souls that are perishing in their sins. We have no right to lade ourselves down with unnecessary cares, to let trifles engross the mind and create worries that are all needless. Many who have the light of truth forget that they are probationers, and their time is not their own; it is God’s time they are using in needless inventions, and they are not diffusing the gifts of heaven, that wisdom which the Lord would have them impart to others. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 14

In the various branches of the work there is need of laborers whom God can employ as His agents; there is opened a wide door for active energy, and we must enter into that kind of work which will be as enduring as eternity. We are not at liberty to choose our own time for the enlightenment of souls; we must accept God’s plans and watch for opportunities to reach the souls for whom Christ died. We are to be instant in season, out of season. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 15

We must beware that we do not become overburdened, even with what seem the necessary cares of life, so that we are unable to do the most essential work. I have a statement to make that I wish might produce an abiding impression upon minds. The largest share of the thoughts and the busy activities that engage hands and hearts are given to selfish, personal, earthly interests. These are allowed to become so engrossing as to prevent attention to the things of eternity. The soul is left to starve for want of nourishment. Mind and body become worn out by protracted hours of application to worldly things. This is just as Satan designed it should be. All the freshness and vigor of the mind, all the keen thought, is given to the world, and God has the feeble, distracted thought, the fruit of a wearied and worried mind. The things of the highest consequence, which pertain to the eternal peace, are made subordinate to the common concerns of life; and God is robbed every day of service which would strengthen spirituality, lifting the thoughts heavenward, and bringing the soul into communion with God and holy angels. There is an abundance of work to do, for idleness would be perilous; but heaven looks with wonder and amazement upon men that turn from the heavenly attractions to the earthly, defrauding their own souls. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 16

This absorption in worldly things leaves no time for calm meditation and devotion. Men have neither time nor strength for wise planning how to do the Lord’s work with simplicity and accuracy. There is no fervor of spirit in serving the Lord. Let all the moments be summed up, and with very many the record books of heaven testify to one long list of acts of robbery toward God. It was for the soul’s interest to think of Him, but He was forgotten, crowded out of the mind. Religion must give place to business. The words of God have been dismissed from the mind, His counsels have been slighted. Hath not God said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”? [Matthew 6:33.] But who are doing this? Professed Christians are deliberately setting aside the simplest and most clearly stated injunctions contained in the Word of God. How can such men grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 17

The Lord is waiting for the human agents to cooperate with the divine in exalting heavenly things above the earthly. “The entrance of thy words giveth light. It giveth understanding to the simple.” [Psalm 119:130.] The Lord’s eye is upon everyone. As man co-operates with God, the Holy Spirit quickens every faculty of the soul, all the powers of the mind. The Spirit’s work does not confuse the intellect; but it develops talent, awakens energy, and inspires hope. Well may the apostle exclaim, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” [Romans 1:16.] 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 18

Now I urge that more attention be given to eternal realities. Let every soul be aroused and show that he appreciates the value of souls for whom Christ died. Let every one inquire, “What can I do to let the light shine forth to others?” Where is the missionary spirit? Where are those who will come to this part of the world and establish themselves in localities where they can lift the standard of truth, working in a quiet way? Although they may not be able to give their whole time to the work, they can give a portion, they can exert a good and saving influence, and God will work through them. Our field is the world, and we may all find ample room in which to work. But there is a great lack of money in the treasury, and if none shall engage in the work but men who are paid wages, what will become of the multitudes that are in darkness? Let all pray that the Lord will teach them how to use His gifts and to do their work with fidelity. 7LtMs, Lt 23a, 1892, par. 19